For many who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss is one of the common and well-known symptoms, though other skills and abilities are also affected.
Changes to their brains’ temporal lobes mean that older folks with dementia may struggle with understanding and using language, including vocabulary, comprehension, and speech. This includes word loss, getting confused during conversations, losing the thread of conversation, and speaking less. Read on to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and communication.
In the brain, language is governed by the left temporal lobe. When Alzheimer’s disease starts to affect this area, it’s natural for the patient to lose words, or use the wrong ones even for basic things, or forget names, even familiar people.
When that happens, caregivers should allow the person with Alzheimer’s to maintain their dignity. Caregivers should react with genuine curiosity and sympathy to find out what the person with Alzheimer’s was trying to say.
At times, the person with Alzheimer’s might even lose the word completely or struggle to finish a sentence. Caregivers should be mindful of the patient’s feelings and not belittle them in any way.
As the disease advances, it’s possible that the person with Alzheimer’s might lose formal language altogether, leaving them with little ability to communicate. They might even stop speaking completely, which means caregivers can only read their needs through non-verbal cues like facial expressions.
Communicating Through Behavior
Since the person with Alzheimer’s may struggle with language, behavior and actions can be the only way they can communicate. Termed dementia-related behaviors, these convey ideas, feelings, and needs of the person with Alzheimer’s, through the only way they can.
In situations where the caregiver might be providing personal care such as bathing and toileting too quickly, this can be frustrating for the person with Alzheimer’s – they might find it difficult to process. This frustration can morph into non-cooperation, anger, and combative behavior. Simply acting with more care and less haste would help the caregiver better serve the person with Alzheimer’s, and avoid situations like this.
Looking on the Bright Side
As much as life with Alzheimer’s can be a negative experience, there is always a bright side in life. Our brains have two temporal lobes, the left and right. While the left temporal lobe declines for people with Alzheimer’s, the right side stays whole throughout. This allows them to take part in activities, socialize, clap to the rhythm of music, and even dance along to the music.
This means someone living with Alzheimer’s can still enjoy their favorite music, and even recite their favorite poetry and verses word for word.
In addition, caregivers can find new approaches to communicate with their loved ones who have Alzheimer’s, using methods that activate the right side of the temporal lobe. So fret not, persons with Alzheimer’s disease can still go about their daily activities.