Communicating with a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's communication

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who has moderate Alzheimer’s Disease?

Then you are most likely familiar with the weariness and frustration of trying to anticipate what topics the person will be able to understand and respond, filtering out potential emotional hotspots, and attempting to simplify a discussion to basic words and sentences.

These mental activities absorb a lot of energy for the person who is mentally well.
There is additional wear and tear on this person’s emotions from the sense of responsibility for a relatively stress free conversation with someone who has Alzheimer’s.

If these descriptions sound familiar then there is good news for you!

It is possible to teach yourself to notice and separate from the enormous feeling of letdown when a conversation with someone who has Alzheimer’s, goes into strange, unexpected, and disappointing zones.

Whereas in a conversation with someone who is capable to fully engage their mind and emotions while relating to another in dialogue, the responsibility for successful discussion is fairly equal between two people, in relating to a person who has Alzheimer’s, the responsibility is quite lopsided.

If you practice and learn that your share in the discussion is to speak simply and kindly, rather than to direct the outcome, encourage awareness, calm emotions, and endless other wished for results, then this releases you from responsibility for both sides of the conversation.

Doing so will allow greater satisfaction and ease with whatever direction the dialogue goes.

By releasing yourself of the expectation to manage two sides of one conversation, you will also feel more free to handle any of your own ongoing and persistent themes of sadness and loss of the person who has the disease, the consequent emerging and shifting family dynamics, as well as managing the organizational and custodial care tasks which the disease introduces into the life.

Basically, there is plenty to notice and address when someone has Alzheimer’s. One way to make this easier is to not add problems. Instead, recognize and reduce unnecessary problems.

Managing both sides of the same conversation with someone who has Alzheimer’s, is definitely one problem which is possible to decrease from one’s life.

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About Sherry Katz

Sherry Katz, LCSW is primarily a couples therapist who counsels partners and individuals of all adult ages, in relieving tension and unhappiness in their relationships. The spectrum of care in her practice includes recuperating from infidelity, clarifying and strengthening trust and communication, restoring and developing common ground for a relationship. Ms. Katz has a secondary practice interest in helping family members align themselves in response to caring for elderly parents, especially a parent who has Alzheimer's Disease.Old Stories, New Views Family Therapy

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