What To Do When Alzheimer’s Patients Stop Talking?
Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease that eats away a person bit by bit. It causes significant damage to the brain. As the disease progresses, the symptoms become worse and worse to a point where the patient cannot do anything on their own. Activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, cooking, eating, taking medication and talking become impossible to do. It is unfortunate that the condition is irreversible and progressive.
At the first, the patient will start with mild dementia and forget simple things like the date, names of people and objects, recent events and difficulties in analyzing things. It may appear to be age-related problems yet these are the onset symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
As the disease progresses, the dementia becomes pronounced. The daily life and relationships of the patient are adversely affected. Here, the patient cannot understand what is going on around them and they cannot pay attention easily. Learning new things becomes a challenge for them. They become delusional and lose interest in everything. They will need help in performing tasks like cooking or shopping.
In the final stage of Alzheimer’s, the symptoms become worse. At this stage, the brain has been significantly damaged. As a result, they become dependent for all activities including mobility. It is also at this point that their speech becomes difficult to understand. In fact, they may stop speaking completely. Their memory becomes severely impaired to the point where they cannot control their bowel movements. Swallowing foods and liquids becomes problematic. Eventually, they end up bedridden.
Alzheimer’s is a life-limiting condition. It gets difficult when the patient cannot communicate or speak. This can be frustrating for a family member or a caregiver who can decide to simply ignore the patient.
The speech impairment in no way connected to their overall intelligence. The severity of the impairment will vary depending on the location and the extent of the brain damage.
How To Respond When They Stop Talking
Establish eye contact with the patient by calling out their name. This will get their full attention. Once you have done that, face them and look them in the eye so that they may feel assured of your attention.
Clue Into Visual Cues
You probably have no idea that body language is a powerful conversation tool even when you are talking to someone without Alzheimer’s. When talking to a patient who has stopped talking, physical indicators can be especially important. Since they are unable to verbally communicate their happiness or frustration, pay attention to facial expressions and body positioning to help you determine their disposition.
Get Creative With Your Communication
Experiment with different types of communication like visual and auditory cues so that the patient can understand. You can use pull outs instead for example when you want them to choose between turkey and ham on their sandwich
Keep The Conversation Going
Even when the patient can no longer talk, just keep talking. Conversation is powerful because it shows the patient that you still care and support them.
It is easy to feel helpless when a patient can no longer talk but you must remain strong for them.