Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Inc. – Support, Education and Research for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

The Five "A's" of Alzheimer's Communication

Communicating with a person with Alzheimer’s can be challenging. Licensed Master Social Worker Cheryl Blanchard helps you understanding the Five A’s which can help you overcome some of the challenges.


Communicating with a person with Alzheimer’s can be challenging. Understanding the 5 A’s can help you overcome some of the challenges.

  1. Aphasia- difficulty with language. This can be either understanding what is said or expressing themselves through words. Remember that your loved one may not understand what the words you are saying mean  or be able to easily form an appropriate  response. Speak slowly and allow the person with Alzheimer’s longer to reply.
  2. Agnosia- forgetting what a common item is or how to use it. Remember that the person with Alzheimer’s may not be able to do what you ask because they won’t be able to recognize an object or figure out it’s use. Try pointing to the object and demonstrating how to use it.
  3. Apraxia- forgetting how to do common movements and activities when asked. Remember that while it appears that your loved one understands you, they will be unable to perform the task you are requesting even though it is something they have been doing for years. Their brain and the muscles required to carry out the task just aren’t communicating.
  4. Amnesia-forgetting what you said within a short amount of time. Don’t ask the person with Alzheimer’s to do something and then leave the room or get busy with something else.  They may get distracted and forget what you said. Instead, stay close by and provide gentle reminders and supervision as needed. Only give one instruction at a time.
  5. Anomia- difficulty with word finding. Remember that it will take longer for the person with Alzheimer’s to find words to form sentences or reply to questions. Be patient and don’t expect immediate replies.
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