Reaching the Unreachable: Connecting with a Loved One Suffering from Alzheimer’s

One of the heartaches of living with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s is the problem of meaningful communication. “It’s so difficult to have a conversation with my client/dear one. The question arises, “Is there still a chance to maintain a mutually satisfying connection between caregiver and patient?” In my experience this can be done given a thorough understanding of the situation and utilizing knowledgeable sources of help, including that of our Lord Jesus, the Great Physician of body and soul. The Problem while each Alzheimer’s patient has his/her unique strengths and weaknesses, there are many commonalities.
The stage of dementia involved is a factor which must be considered. With the disease’s progressive deterioration of your loved one’s mental faculties the loss of communication, in normal terms, grows more acute. The diminishing capacity to understand what you are saying and the corresponding inability to respond verbally in a meaningful way greatly complicate effective “connecting with” your client/loved one.

A Solution In seeking to achieve a mutually effective “give and take” with your client/loved one you must also consider the problems of attention span and level of comprehension. Spending quality time with them and carefully observing their reactions will greatly help you adjust your conversation accordingly. “Keep it simple” is a good rule to follow. This does not mean, however, that you cannot penetrate these significant barriers to good communication with some encouraging expressions of your love and concern. Using God’s Word is the key to connecting with your loved one. With God all things are possible. Or as Paul tells us, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). The point here is that taking hold of your client/loved one’s hand, speaking slowly in simple terms and sharing appropriate portions of God’s Word will enable you to communicate with your dear one.

Conclusion If we prayerfully enlist the help of our Lord in visiting with our loved ones afflicted with Alzheimer’s or other dementia type illnesses we can make these occasions ones for rejoicing and not emotionally wrenching experiences. In fact, we too shall be comforted by our Savior’s Word as we share it with a loving spouse or parent. Tears may fill our eyes, but they will be tears of joy knowing that we are “reaching the unreachable”!