12 resources for Alzheimer’s disease communication problems

The Captain could have been talking about Alzheimer’s disease when he said “what we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach.” However, the following list includes articles, books, videos, and other resources that a caregiver may use to get through to the person with Alzheimer.

Resources for Alzheimer’s communication and behavior issues

  1. Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease: Your Easy-to-Use Guide from the National Institute on Aging (2013, 104p.)


This is a free guide addressing topics that can help you understand and cope with the challenges of providing care for people who have Alzheimer’s disease, such as strategies for coping with changes in communication skills and changes in personality and behavior.


·         National Institute on Aging Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center.

·         Phone: 1-800- 438-4380.

·         Email: adear@nia.nih.gov

  1. Changes in Communication Skills (2012, 2 p.)

This sheet offers tips on how to improve communication with Alzheimer patients, including specific examples of requests and questions to use and to avoid.


·         National Institute on Aging Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center.

·         Phone: 1-800- 438-4380.

·         Email: adear@nia.nih.gov

  1. Communicating (2009)

Provides suggestions and guidelines to enhance communication with a person with Alzheimer’s disease and advice on how to help them express themselves and understand others.


·         Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter.

·         Phone: 1-646-744-2900.

·         Email: helpline@alznyc.org

  1. Communicating with Patients who Have Dementia (2013, 1 p.)

This brief but enlightening sheet teaches what works and what doesn’t work with verbal and non-verbal communication, and stresses the importance of simple, non-condescending language.


·         Arizona Geriatric Education Center

  1. Communication: Tips for Successful Communication at All Stages of the Disease (2013, 8 p.)

Helps pave the way for successful two-way communication with a person who finds it hard to convey their thoughts and emotions as well as understand others, or who are hearing- or visually-impaired.


·         Alzheimer’s Association.

·         Phone: 1-800-272-3900.

·         Email: info@alz.org

  1. Communication: Techniques

An online tip sheet including advice that emphasizes tone of voice, choice of words, eye contact, body language, etc.


·         Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

·         Phone: 1-866-232-8484.

·         Email: info@alzfdn.org

7.       Creating Moments of Joy for the Person with Alzheimer’s or Dementia (2007, 306 p.)

As I put it in my review of this book, “the text is full of small and simple ways in which caregivers can provide Alzheimer’s disease patients with souvenirs of happier times One of Mrs. Brackey’s premises – though not mentioned by name in the book – is that of involuntary memory, in which cues taken from daily life, such as fishing rod, have the power to trigger past recollections even in people who have lost their short-term memory.”


·         Purdue University Press.

·         Paperback $24.95.

8.       Enhancing Communication

Created for and by people with dementia, this online guide offers solutions and strategies to make opinions, feelings, and experiences heard. It includes tips for family caregivers and healthcare professionals as well.


·         Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program.

·         Phone: 1-519-888-4567

9.       How to Communicate with Alzheimer’s: A Practical Guide & Workbook for Families (2004, 152 p.)

Authored by speech pathologist Susan Kohler, this book was written to help families communicate with a relative who suffers from confusion or memory loss – whether caused by Alzheimer or another form of dementia. Includes strategies to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of the patient.


·         Granny’s Rocker Publishing.

·         Phone: 1-866-743-9624. Email: susankohler@grpublishing.com.

·         Spiral-bound $17.95, e-book $9.95.

10.   Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s: A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease (2004, 241 p.)

Written by Joanne Koenig Coste, this tome suggests that caregivers relate to the patient’s current reality and abilities to foster emotional wellbeing – an approached called “habilitation.” Provides tools to reduce anxiety, agitation, and aggression.


·         Houghton Mifflin.

·         Available from online booksellers.

·         Paperback $12.76.

·         A related video is available from Terra Nova Films.

11.   Validation Techniques for Dementia Care: The Family Guide to Improving Communication (2008, 144 p.)

Expounds on the “validation” approach created to help caregivers enhance communication, prevent conflict, and maintain connections through the validation of expressed feelings as opposed to focusing on the patient’s confusion. Real-life case studies illustrate verbal and non-verbal communication techniques.


·         Health Professions Press.

·         Phone: 1-888-337-8808.

·         Email: custserv@healthpropress.com.

·         Paperback $22.95.

12.   When Words Have Lost Their Meaning: Alzheimer’s Patients Communicate Through Art (2004, 224 p.)

People with Alzheimer’s disease who can’t communicate verbally anymore can still express themselves through art. This volume offers guidelines to conduct art therapy sessions with individuals and groups, cases studies, and over 70 drawings and paintings.


·         ABC-CLIO.

·         Phone: 1-800-368-6868.

·         Email: customerservice@abc-clio.com.

·         Hardcover $55; call for e-book price.