10 Tips for Communicating with Alzheimer’s Patients

When a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, it can be really hard to communicate with them.  After a while, they repeat themselves over and over and then, after even longer, they don’t really make sense anymore.  It can be trying and you want to say the right thing, but what is the right thing?  Here are some basic guidelines to follow when communicating with a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease:

1. Don’t argue, instead agree.  It is futile to argue with them because they most likely won’t see things your way.  They don’t remember how it really was, and so their version of events is all you have to go on.
l the memory of that activity, improving cognitive ability over time.


Never reason, instead divert. When they are really focused on something that may be off or wrong or unnecessary, it’s better to divert the attention to something else than to upset them by trying to reason with them.

Never shame, instead distract.

Don’t lecture, instead reassure.  Reassure them that they’re ok and that everything is going to be okay. Reassure them that what they just did or what they don’t remember is not a big deal.

Never say “remember”, instead reminisce.  They might not remember something specifically. But reminiscing together and stories and memories from the past may spark something in their mind.  Or they may remember certain stories that they want to tell you.


Don’t say “I told you”, instead repeat or rephrase.


Don’t say “you can’t”, instead do something they can. As much as possible, try to do activities or events that they CAN participate in.


Never demand, instead ask or model.


Never force, instead reinforce.


Never condescend, instead encourage.  Encourage them that they are doing a good job at whatever they’re doing.  Make them feel that they are still as important and precious as they are.  


Those are just a few basic suggestions for communicating with your loved ones.  Alzheimer’s disease can be exhausting for everyone involved.  So make sure you as their loved one are getting proper care too.