When communicating with aged loved ones that may be starting to become forgetful, it may be frustrating to repeat or remind; however, the most important thing is to keep them from feeling as though they are a burden for not remembering. This may lead them to an unsafe situation because they did not want to ask again with the dreaded response and feeling inadequate. It may be they are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia but no matter where they may be mentally, feeling loved without negative responses will remind them they matter.
Here are some helpful ways to communicate and not interrogate your aging loved one:
1. “How can you not remember that! I organized your medications so you can remember and they are right in front of you, how could you forget !?”
Say instead: “Dad, show me your routine when I’m not here so maybe we can figure out together what would make it easier to remember when to take your medications”. It may help by placing big colorful reminder cards on the mirrors, refrigerator doors, etc.
2. “You could do that if you really tried right? You just don’t want to change a simple light bulb, you did it last week why is it all of a sudden you can’t?”
Say instead: “Show me where the light bulbs are and show me where you are having trouble”. It may be their illness is progressing such as shaking or weakness so this may be a good time to monitor the changes.
3. “I just showed you how to use your remote yesterday!” which many aging loved ones do have difficulty with a remote due to vision, shaking or forgetfulness.
Say instead:”Maybe if you have only three channels you like, I can tape over the other channels to make it easier to find the power button and the three other buttons on the remote”.
4. “What does that have to do with what we’re talking about!?” Many times, aging loved ones do lose track of the conversation which may be factors such as being bored of the conversation and want a different subject or simply lost track.
Say instead: “I was talking about the garden and how the tomatoes are looking great.” If the conversation is important to you, bring them back by asking “What do you think about my garden?”.
Being creative in helping your loved one live a safer and easier way of life can help them adjust to a healthier journey.