How Alzheimer’s Disease Impacts Communication


If you are related to or caring for somebody with Alzheimer’s disease, then you may have noticed that communicating with friends and loved ones has become more difficult for them. It’s important to understand how Alzheimer’s impacts communication as this disease progresses, in order to ensure that you can provide the right care and support to the affected person. People who have Alzheimer’s tend to lose certain communication abilities during the early, middle, and later stages of the condition. Keep reading to learn more about these common communication challenges and what to expect.

Early Stages

During the early stages of the development of Alzheimer’s, you may notice a few traits that impact communication. This could include requiring more concentration when it comes to following conversations, and difficulties staying on topic. The person might often have difficulty finding the right words, which can lead to increased frustration and agitation while communicating.

They may need more time to come up with verbal responses to questions, and you may notice that they are losing their train of thought more often than they used to. This may often be the stage where relatives and/or caregivers notice that something is wrong and get professional help.

Along with getting help from the person’s doctor, you may also want to consider getting support from a professional memory care facility such as

Middle Stages

When Alzheimer’s disease has progressed to the middle stages, there may be more noticeable communication difficulties. People with middle-stage Alzheimer’s might have more difficulty understanding and following long conversations. They might find it harder to interpret facial expressions, become unable to, or struggle to explain abstract concepts.

You may notice that they are struggling to read more than they used to in the past and have problems finishing sentences. They may speak more vaguely or appear to be rambling and demonstrate a decreased vocal expression, including less ability to lower or raise their voice. Some people at this stage of the condition are more apathetic, which leads to a reduced interest in communicating with others.

Late Stages

The later stages of Alzheimer’s are often when the person will need more intense care and support in order to ensure that they can live life as safely and as fulfilling for them as possible. Communication problems are likely to be more apparent during this stage of the development of the condition.

People with late-stage Alzheimer’s may have problems with understanding the meaning of many or most words and have diminished use of proper grammar. You may notice that they do not realize when they are being addressed or spoken to. In some cases, mutism can occur, and the person will simply not speak.

Advice for Relatives and Caregivers

If you are a relative, friend, or are caring for somebody with Alzheimer’s, there are several things that you can do to make the experience easier for both them and you. It is important to remember that although your loved one might not appear to be very interested in communicating, the opposite might be true for them internally. It may be that this condition has made them incapable of showing their desire to communicate, but meaningful communication is still something that they enjoy.

Adapting Your Communication Style

There are several things that you can do to adapt your communication style to make it easier to speak with somebody with Alzheimer’s disease. First, keep communication simple, and be prepared to break things down if they are struggling to understand what you are trying to say to them. Speak clearly and try to stay patient and calm if they are having a hard time understanding you. Keep questions simple and to a minimum, especially if your loved one is struggling to comprehend them.

In some cases, it can be worth using visual aids, for example, if giving them a choice between two different things. Finally, don’t always expect your loved one to communicate actively with you, but continue striving for meaningful communication and continue talking to them to let them know they’re important to you, even if they don’t seem to be engaging. Alzheimer’s disease can rob somebody of their ability to communicate. As a relative or caregiver, understanding how this condition impacts communication and how to handle it is important.

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