Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Foundation of America

Tips For Speaking About Memory Changes

  • Begin with educating yourself about memory changes and their potential causes.
  • Know the person, their preferences and unique identity.
  • Include the individual in the conversation for as long as possible.
  • Keep in mind tone, body language and try to remain calm.
  • Be aware of details.  For example, while some people may be happy to see their family around them during a conversation of this nature, some may be more private.
  • Be considerate with the language used. For example, it may be more beneficial and supportive to refrain from making statements like, “You need to go to the doctor.”
  • Be mindful of how these concerns are being described.  For example, instead of using trigger words like Alzheimer’s, perhaps refer to the memory changes in a less intimidating way, using examples (e.g. “I noticed that…”).
  • Recognize that this conversation may happen more than once. Try to continue the dialogue but be considerate as this conversation can be overwhelming for everyone.
  • Be open to changing your strategy and know what resources are available.

Licensed social workers are available to offer additional strategies and support via AFA’s National Toll-Free Helpline (866-232-8484).