Seniors who have suffered a stroke or have Alzheimer’s or other conditions that affect the elderly may have trouble communicating. When the ability to speak and understand are affected, it can be frustrating for the senior, and the caregiver.

Here are some tips for caregivers of elders with speech disorders:

1. Re-assure the patient. Encourage them to relax before attempting to communicate.

2. Give the patient extra time to respond and to communicate.

3. Speak slowly. Use short phrases. Emphasize key words. Keep messages short and simple.

4. Ask one question at a time. Ask questions that can be answered by “yes” or “no,” or questions that give a finite number of choices.

5. Give simple, one step directions. If the message is not understood, try again at another time.

6. Remember that the goal is communication of information and not perfect speech.

7. Clarify the message when needed.

8. Make sure background noise is kept to a minimum when communicating (turn off the TV and radio). Eliminate distractions.

9. Use gestures when needed. Point to objects when necessary.

10.Repeat information as needed. Repeat it in a different way. Use different types of words. Try writing or drawing.

11.Provide encouragement. Do not correct. If you don’t comprehend the message, say “almost” or “I’m sorry that I didn’t understand.”

12.Tell the person that you will return to the topic later.

13.Look for facial expressions and attempt to guess within a category.

14.Let the person know that what he/she is attempting to communicate to you is important but that you are unable to understand at that time and that you will attempt to get the message at a later time.

15.Provide orientation. Use a memory book or journal and read it frequently. Use pictures and/ or simple sentences and speak in a calm voice.

16.Follow a routine. Perform the same tasks in the same order daily.

17.Use signs and labels; provide many visual cues that can easily be seen.

18.Give one step instructions (e.g. “put on your socks” and then “put on your shoes”)

19.Provide two choices when asking questions.

20.Validate the person’s feelings.

Jewish Home offers special care for elders with speech and swallowing disorders.  For more information click here: