Slow down when communicating with people with Alzheimer's

Simplifying your questions and being aware of nonverbal cues can make it much easier to talk with people who have Alzheimer’s disease or other short-term memory problems.

“Pay attention not only to what needs to be said, but how to say it,” says Kristin Martin-Cook, clinical trials coordinator of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Ms. Martin-Cook offers the following tips:

• When asking for a decision, present a few options to choose from rather than asking open-ended questions;

• Speak in short, simple sentences and use gestures as appropriate;

• Give directions one step at a time;

• Speak clearly and slowly without background noise;

• Maintain eye contact and touch the person in order to focus the person’s attention;

• Be aware of your nonverbal cues, such as tone of voice, body language or emotion; even someone with a cognitive disorder is sensitive to these; and

• Do not criticize the person’s speech or point out memory gaps. Prompt the person with missing words matter-of-factly.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/neurosciences to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in neurosciences, including the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

Media Contact: Aline McKenzie

Return to November 2010 News Tips

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