Communication and Alzheimer's Disease

People communicate through words and with body language---their gestures, tone of voice, facial expression, posture, and touch. Alzheimer's disease interferes first with a person's understanding of words. When word skills are impaired, body language becomes extremely important in delivering a message. In the early stages of the disease, persons with Alzheimer's are aware of the gaps in their communication. They may work very hard to cover them up. They may make up stories to cover missing memories, or become anxious or indignant when they are unable to communicate accurately. Family can unwittingly add to their distress when they try to correct the person or they show alarm or distress.

Suggestions for More Effective Communication

Many things can be accomplished despite the communication problems of Alzheimer's if the message is delivered in a cheerful and supportive tone by a person showing warmth and understanding.

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