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What To Say To Someone Whose Parent Has Alzheimer’s

Please Steer Clear From These Select Phrases

3 things to NEVER do with your loved one with dementia

You must feel alone.

Caregivers may feel like they are adrift at sea in a leaky lifeboat however, they are never truly on their own. With an estimated 500,000 Canadians having Alzheimers disease or a related dementia , you wont have to look too far to find someone else affected by the condition. Sharing with and learning from another caregiver in a similar situation can be both therapeutic and beneficial. Additionally, there are many programs and services available across the country for Alzheimers caregivers. Instead of leaving the caregiver floating aimlessly, hand him/her a life jacket and recommend contacting The Alzheimers Society of Canada or the closest provincial chapter of The Alzheimers Society.

Your mother / father is wrong.

Mom / Dad may think that today is Tuesday rather than Saturday , but, trust me, pointing out such errors is futile. You may likely hear the very same statement a few minutes later . Arguing with someone with an Alzheimers patient is also embarrassing and maddening for someone in the early stages of dementia, as he/she may likely realize that his/her memory is starting to slip. Its far better to smile and accept what the senior has said as truth remember that it is Alzheimers disease which confuses the facts.

Things arent going to get better.

Things are going to get better.

Finding things to do with your mother / father must be tough.

Tips For Caregivers: Taking Care Of Yourself

Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia takes time and effort. It can feel lonely and frustrating. You might even feel angry, which could be a sign you are trying to take on too much. It is important to find time to take care of yourself. Here are some tips that may offer some relief:

  • Ask for help when you need it. This could mean asking family members and friends to help or reaching out to for additional care needs.
  • Eat nutritious foods, which can help keep you healthy and active for longer.
  • Join a caregiver’s support group online or in person. Meeting other caregivers will give you a chance to share stories and ideas and can help keep you from feeling isolated.
  • Take breaks each day. Try making a cup of tea or calling a friend.
  • Spend time with friends and keep up with hobbies.
  • Get exercise as often as you can. Try doing yoga or going for a walk.
  • Try practicing meditation. Research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and insomnia.
  • Consider seeking help from mental health professionals to help you cope with stress and anxiety. Talk with your doctor about finding treatment.

What To Say When You Think Your Loved One Might Have Dementia

Now that youve done some research and possibly compared notes with a healthcare professional, its time to sit down and have a calm, candid chat. Some experts suggest that a good way to begin is to just be honest. Share that you have noticed that they cant seem to remember things all that well. Ask if they have been feeling stressed or had trouble sleeping. Then wonder aloud if it might be a good idea to see a doctor and get to the bottom of things.

The approach lets you share your concerns without using the D word. It also shows respect for your loved one by asking them what they think.

Some people will be open to the idea of consulting with their primary care doctor. However, depending on your mom or dads personality, and how advanced their condition is, its not unusual to encounter resistance. Although they may be resistant, there are still ways to help a parent with dementia who refuses care.

Like you, they might be scared. Or it could be that the condition is affecting their ability to think things through. Whatever the reason, continue to display empathy and understanding.

One more thought: Dont jump to any conclusions. While it might well be dementia, it could be something else. Changes in memory, mood, and behavior can be the result of other physical conditions, reactions to medication, nutritional issues, hormonal fluctuations and a host of other reasons.

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Send A Condolence Card

Taking time to send a handwritten condolence card is a thoughtful and personal gesture that is usually appreciated by the family of the deceased. You can keep it short and simple on a sympathy note for flowers.

However, if the family has asked for no flowers, you can send a separate card with more room to express your sympathies.

What To Say If The Family Member Is In The Hospital And Seriously Ill

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Dealing with a family member in the hospital can be one of the most stressful things to encounter. If that family member is seriously ill, its that much worse. With a family member in the hospital, your friend may feel strapped for time with either work or staying at the hospital with their loved one.

When they arent at their family members bedside, they may be a bit fragile and worried. If you have a couple of days and went to send something special, they might even a gift box with snacks to share at the hospital or to pass along a get well card to share with their loved one.

Are you wondering if theres something you shouldnt say? Some people may not be keen on hearing definites about the unknown, such as expecting their family member to recover or even trying to offer any medical advice. There are some platitudes that just may not feel appropriate to share and with such a delicate situation, it may be best to err on the conservative side.

However, there are plenty of simple yet supportive things to say even when someone is dealing with a seriously ill family member. Heres what you should say to him or her. Feel free to make the following suggestions your own.

  • How is everything going, if you dont mind me asking? I have been praying for your family.
  • Let me know if I can help you in any way. I want you to be able to give you full attention where its needed.
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    Dont Talk Down To Them

    Caregivers and/or family members should never talk down to the individual with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s, and this especially includes baby talk, which doesn’t work neurologically . The fact that the patient and/or loved one is having problems with language does not mean that talking to them like a four-year-old is going to help. The communication style should still be to a respected, older adult.

    Things To Say To Someone With Alzheimers

    Seeing someone you care about experience Alzheimers or another type of dementia is painstakingly difficult. Knowing what to say to someone whos lost his or her memory can also be hard. However, how you approach conversations can have a significant impact on your loved one.

    The most important tip for communication with someone living with Alzheimers is to meet them where they are, said Ruth Drew, director of Information and Support Services at the Alzheimers Association. In the early stage of the disease, a person is still able to have meaningful conversations, but may repeat stories, feel overwhelmed by excessive stimulation, or have difficulty finding the right word. Be patient and understand that their brain is not working in the way it once did.

    As the disease progresses, communicating with that person may become even more challenging. However, if you recognize the changes and challenges that come with dementia, you will more easily be able to alter your conversations with that person to meet his or her needs.

    This may require slowing down and making eye contact with the person as you speak, says Drew. Use short, simple sentences, ask one question at a time, and give the person time to process and respond before continuing the conversation. If you are kind, gentle and relaxed, everything will work better.

    Read on for six helpful things to say to those with Alzheimers, and three topics and phrases experts recommend avoiding.

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    Grieving The Living: My Dads Six Years With Dementia

    Two conflicting emotions were woven inextricably throughout the six years between my fathers Alzheimers diagnosis and his death: love and grief. The love was simple and clear. Its what made me willingly put everything else on hold to care for him, what made me search for things that would bring him pleasure or comfort, what made me rejoice every time we had a special moment together.

    The grief, however, was not at all simple. To this day, 10 months after his death, I am still trying to sort it out.

    My dad first showed signs of dementia as early as 2008, though I was the only one who noticed something was wrong. A sharp-as-a-tack lawyer, who also held Ph.D. in chemical engineering, my father was not someone who was easily mixed up. But I noticed he started to confuse elementary conceptsIm a lawyer, too, so it was obvious to me, but not noticeable to others. Even though I noticed he was different, I couldnt accept that he might have Alzheimers. I researched until I found mild cognitive impairment, a condition that sometimes leads to Alzheimers. Its a dark day when the best hope is for MCI, but thats what I clung to.

    Grief came flooding in the moment his doctor spoke these words: After reviewing your exam, your neuropsychological tests, and the results of your spinal tap, we can say with certainty that you have Alzheimers disease.

    Julie Fleming is the founder of The Purple Sherpa, a support group for caregivers.

    How To Effectively Talk To A Parent With Dementia

    Top 3 signs your loved one with dementia needs nursing home care

    Communication is a big challenge for many individuals when dealing with loved ones suffering from dementia. Because of the inability to focus and remember, dementia patients experience feelings of anger and confusion, which may result in oppositional and aggressive behavior toward family caregivers in contact, like a family member or a spouse. This is why family caregivers often feel lost and helpless when talking to ageing parents with dementia.

    However, communication doesnt have to be the barrier that stands between you and your parent. By understanding the condition of dementia better and practicing strategies to deal with dementia behavior, you too can effectively communicate with a dementia patient.

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    Your Face Is A Puzzle To Your Parent

    Recent research at the Universite de Montreal sheds some light on why a parent with Alzheimers may not recognize you.

    In this study, when Alzheimers patients looked at peoples faces presented upside-down, they were able to recognize them with about as much ease and speed as someone without Alzheimers.

    However, when the same faces were presented right-side up, the Alzheimers patients were no longer able to recognize the faces of their loved ones.

    Apparently, in order to recognize upside-down faces, the brain must analyze and put together separate pieces of the face: eyes, nose, etc. Alzheimers patients can do that.

    But to recognize a face presented normally, or right-side-up, the brain must input it as a whole.

    Its this holistic perception that is lost early in the Alzheimers journey, and prevents your parent from recognizing you when you walk in their front door.

    This study provides valuable perspective for children wondering if their parent’s memory of who they are has actually disappeared, or if their parent is experiencing a simple brain-visual misunderstanding.

    Perhaps it is their perception, and not their memories, that are keeping them from knowing who you are.

    Especially Dont Judge Feelings

    Particularly negative ones. In caregiving, they come with the territory. One of the most commented on articles that Ive shared on is a HuffPost article by Ann Brenoff entitled, No, Caregiving is Not Rewarding. It Sucks. Based on comments, it seems this is a sentiment that is shared by many but that also causes a great deal of shame. The bottom line is we may be doing amazing things for our parents BUT ALSO hating every minute of it. These are not mutually exclusive.

    Duty does not require joy.

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    What To Say In A Card

    Cards are a good option for sending condolences to someone. If youre good with words, you can choose a blank card and write a lengthy message. If words arent your forte, pick out a card with a message inside that captures what you want to say and add a brief note of your own.

    They also offer a tangible keepsake for the kind of person who likes to save cards and other mementos from critical moments in their lives.

    • Please know that we are holding your family in our hearts right now.
    • Ill never forget the kindness your mother showed to me when I needed it. She taught me what being a mother is all about.
    • Your dad was so funny. I really miss watching the lengths he would go to when he wanted to entertain people. I miss him so much.
    • When I didnt know what I wanted to do with my life, your stepmom took time to talk with me and find out my interests. I owe so much to her.

    Dealing With Stubbornness In Parents Living With Dementia: 50 Expert Tips For Communicating Gaining Cooperation And Understanding Behavior

    Isolation the real threat for loved ones with dementia ...

    Caring for aging parents gives adult children peace of mind to know they are providing loving care. It also allows for them to make more memories and spend more time with parents in the final chapter of their lives. But caregiving is far from easy, especially when loved ones are diagnosed with dementia. Resisting care and general stubbornness are two hallmarks of dementia, and they are among the most common reasons that adult children look for help as caregivers.

    If youre unsure how to deal with stubbornness in parents with dementia, youre not alone. Most family caregivers of loved ones with dementia struggle daily with getting them to the doctor, gaining their cooperation, convincing them to bathe and brush their teeth, and communicating with them. Read on for a comprehensive list of tips from other caregivers, medical professionals, gerontologists, and dementia experts. Tips are categorized and listed them alphabetically within each category, but are not ranked or rated in any way.

    If you need help caring for a parent or a loved one with dementia at home, learn more about Seniorlinks coaching and financial assistance program for caregivers of Medicaid-eligible friends and family members.

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    What To Say On Social Media

    Remember that only immediate family or people theyve designated should make a public post about the passing of their parent. Once theyve made a post, feel free to leave your condolences as a comment to that post.

    • There are no words that can begin to capture the magnitude of your loss. Im so sorry that you and your family are going through this.
    • Every time I ran into your father, he couldnt wait to tell me about your latest accomplishments. I hope you know how proud he was to be your dad.
    • Your mother was one of the kindest, most generous people Ive ever known, and her compassion continues to shine on through you.
    • Ill miss running into your stepdad at the coffee shop every morning. Seeing him was always a highlight of my day.

    Don’t Give Up On Your Loved One

    Doing our best for those we love, no matter what their condition is, for better or for worse, will make most of us feel better in the long run. If we need a support group or personal counseling for caregivers to learn the skills we need to interact with a loved one affected by AD, the payoff from trying to do our best can be enormous. No day will be perfect, and often you will feel as though your efforts really do not count. That is normal.

    However, trying does count. Do your best for those you love, even when it is hard. Do your best to learn and grow as a caregiver. You will not regret it.

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    To Associates And Distant Relatives

    • Keep the closing short if you were not close to the deceased, but opt for a personal touch over a generic closing like “Sincerely.” Instead, a thoughtful line can convey that the recipient is in your thoughts during this difficult time. Closings such as “Please accept my condolences,” “Wishing you peace and strength during this difficult time,” “With caring thoughts,” “I am sorry for your loss” or “May your memories give you strength” are short and thoughtful.

    Do Ask Me How Are You Feeling


    Its a much more inviting and supportive question than How are you? and gives me low-key permission to answer you honestly with the state of my heart in that moment. I appreciate getting asked this by loved ones who know Im in a grieved state about my mom because it also allows me to vent about work or my kids or the woman with 16 items in the express check-out line with whom Im still irrationally angry. I sometimes feel selfish for being overwhelmed with the stressful or sad parts of my life which are difficult, separate from my Moms condition.

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    Say What You Need To Saykindly

    Dont bombard your mom or dad with questions right away. Cover one thought or idea at a time and give them plenty of time to respond. They will likely be overwhelmed by the news and may not be able to process all of the details. Instead of getting upset, focus on speaking with kindness and validation. Using validation to communicate through dementia is an effective way to accept their reality and reduce agitation.

    As the disease progresses, if your parent isnt getting what you are trying to say, dont repeat the same question. Instead, try putting things another way. For instance, show them a photo of someone you are talking about. It can also be helpful to stick with questions that can be answered yes or no.


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