Learn the key topics to avoid and what not to say when communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s to ensure your interactions are respectful and compassionate.

What Not To Say to People With Alzheimer’s

Author: Caring Hearts Premier Home Care |

Blog by Caring Hearts Premier Home Care

Communicating with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease can be a complex and sensitive task. Alzheimer’s creates cognitive and linguistic barriers as it progresses, which can make simple conversations challenging for patients, their caregivers, and family. How we speak to those with Alzheimer’s matters—it’s an important part of preserving the individual’s dignity and self-esteem. Here are some quick tips to help you know what not to say to people with Alzheimer’s.

Don’t Argue With Them

Alzheimer’s often causes patients to hold onto false notions or memories. It is not helpful to argue when they make a statement that doesn’t align with what you believe is true. Disputing their claims can lead to frustration and unnecessary standoffs. It’s more effective to acknowledge their feelings or what they’re expressing and offer comfort. Gently change the subject instead of trying to correct them if you find yourself feeling frustrated.

Don’t Ask Them To Remember Details

Alzheimer’s directly impacts a person’s short-term memory, and patients often have difficulty recalling recent conversations or events. Asking them to remember something specific can be distressing and place undue pressure. Instead, try to start conversations with an open-ended question about familiar topics that could lead to a more relaxed and enjoyable exchange. You can also tell them about your day, leaving the conversation open for them to share about theirs.

Don’t Remind Them of Repeated Questions

Patients with Alzheimer’s often repeat questions or stories, which can be worrying for caregivers who fear their loved one’s condition is worsening. But for the patient, these repetitions often stem from genuine curiosity and a need for reassurance. Instead of signaling that they are repeating themselves, which can cause frustration and humiliation, answer their questions patiently each time.

Don’t Bring Up Topics That Could Upset Them

It can be tempting to engage patients with Alzheimer’s in current news or events, but doing so can sometimes lead to distress. Disturbing topics like illness, death, or even negative family history stories may upset the patient. Stick to light, positive topics and present events that may comfort them.

Don’t Use “Elderspeak”

“Elderspeak” or simplifying language may be well-intentioned to ease communication, but it can infantilize the patient, creating more frustration than help. Maintain your regular conversational tone as often as possible and speak clearly, giving them the dignity of an adult conversation.

Knowing what not to say to people with Alzheimer’s is crucial to maintaining respectful and compassionate communication. Understanding and patience go a long way in maintaining the well-being of our loved ones dealing with this condition. Remember these tips and consider hiring caregiving services for professional help communicating if you’re struggling to communicate with your loved one. Our caregivers at Caring Hearts Premier Home Care specialize in working with Alzheimer’s patients and those with dementia. Professional caregivers can help provide the care and compassionate conversation your loved ones need.