Suggestions/tips on how to communicate effectively with Alzheimer's dad

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    My dad has Alzheimer’s and my mom passed away some time ago. My brother and I placed him in a nursing home because we couldn’t take care of him. My question is, is it better to consistently be truthful when talking with someone who has Alzheimer’s, or should I just go along with what he is saying and thinking at any given time, and play along like he is right, or the situation he thinks he is in is accurate? For example, for a while, he would hang out by the welcome desk at the nursing home, waiting for my mom to pick him up, even though she had passed away. I would come to see him and he would ask me where she was. Or, he would tell me he needs to go home because he’s not sick and he’s worried about being in the hospital (which was not true) for so long. The times I’ve told him the truth, he’s been very angry and tells me that I don’t know anything. So I”m thinking maybe it makes more sense to go along with him. I’m not sure what to do at this point. Any advice or suggestions? Thanks!



    Two common strategies that are recommended to work with dementia are validation and redirection. An example of validation is when your Dad is waiting for your mom. You could start with validating that he is missing his wife, and ask him to tell you some things he likes about her. If you can get him to start talking about her, he might start reminiscing about happier times which might comfort him and take his mind off of waiting for her. By honoring his feelings, you’re neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the idea that his wife is still alive.

    Redirection is also a helpful approach to these situations. Redirection involves diverting your dad’s attention to something pleasant. Find activities and hobbies he likes to do, a favorite drink or snack, or music he likes, and offer your dad these comfortable things (and educate staff on these things as well) to redirect your dad when he is feeling confused and lonely.

    Although lying isn’t recommended as a regular approach, sometimes validation and redirection do not work. If your father insists on waiting for his wife, and you find he is calmer when you tell him “okay”, this approach may make some sense since it makes him feel more at peace.



    Hi bodega7355, communication with an Alzheimer’s patient requires understanding, patience and good listening skills. My grandfather has the same problem. He always asks for grandma (who passed away 2 years back) and we politely answer him  like she will come soon or she went out etc. He probably gets anger if we don’t agree with him. My grandfather is cared by a senior care service ( which gives special care to those people affected by Alzheimer’s and they have taught us some things (like this) to be taken care while interfering with him.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by eunice112.
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