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Transcript: "Tips on Communicating"

Cynthia D. Steele, RN, MPH
Johns Hopkins University Alzheimer's
Disease Center:

As caregivers, communicating with someone with Alzheimer's disease can be a challenge because the patients will develop two different kinds of problems with language and communication. First they'll have difficulty finding the word they want to say to you and so their speech may seem empty and vague. They may say, "I need the thing for..." and not be able to describe it to you. The second kind of communication problem that they develop is difficulty in understanding what you're saying to them. Therefore, we need to do a couple of things in terms of maximizing our communication. As a caregiver, you need to use simple sentences and speak slowly. You may need to repeat yourself several times; it may take some time for the person to really understand what you're saying. Secondly, try to augment your communication by showing people things. So for example, you might say, "Do you want this sweater or do you want that one?" not, "Do you want a sweater or a blouse?" Try to ask "yes" "no" questions rather than complicated questions requiring complex answers. It will only frustrate you and the person you're trying to communicate with.

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