Behaviors & Communication

Communication is a complicated process that even early in the disease can pose challenges for a person with dementia.  ‘Tip of the tongue’ moments become more common in the early stage.  Due to short term memory loss, repetition becomes more common as well.

By the moderate stage, the person’s ability to express and understand have changed. Their ability to interpret information coming in through their senses has become compromised as well as the ability to understand cues for basic needs (hunger, thirst, fatigue, etc.) 

In the late stage, verbal communication is often single words, or a string of words that seem unrelated. 

Because of these continual changes, the way you communicated in the past will likely have to change and adapt as the disease progresses.

Behavior and communication in Alzheimer’s disease are intimately intertwined.  As the ability to say what they think, feel and need changes, behavior becomes a form of communication.  They person uses actions to convey thoughts since words are not readily available. 

Even with communication and behavioral changes, it is important to know that nonverbal communication remains strong throughout the course of dementia.  Your posture, tone of voice, facial expression and eye contact are speaking much more loudly to a person with dementia than the specific words that are coming out of your mouth.  Make sure your nonverbals are communicating the message you intend because it will be understood much more easily than words.