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Alzheimer's and Communication
Written By : SeniorsList 
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More than any other source of solace or peace, where is one place we can go to, to retreat from the world, to listen to our own internal dialogue, to have the deepest, most profound thoughts, or the silliest, most shallow musings? The mind. It is our first and last refuge, the one place outside of the world where we can truly be ourselves. If this all sounds a little melodramatic or esoteric, have you ever considered what that place must feel like to someone with Alzheimer's? What was once a place of sanctity, security and safety has now become a strange and alien world, nearly bereft of recognizable landmarks. Imagine living in such a place. Frightening, isn't it? Or, imagine trying to reach someone trapped in that place.

Communication plays a big part in maintaining a healthy outlook, for yourself, and for sufferers of the disease. As it ravages the mind, the sufferer begins having difficulty communicating, and may show signs of one of the following:

  • They might have difficulty finding the right words
  • Familiar words might be used repeatedly
  • Their train of thought frequently gets lost
  • There is difficulty in organizing thoughts and words in a logical fashion
  • Gestures might come into play more often, in place of words
  • Due to frustration and anger at being misunderstood, curse words may become more prevalent in dialog

And, you may be asking yourself, “Where do I come in?” When communicating with an Alzheimer's patient, here are a few tips that will ease the process and make your connections more fruitful.

  • Eye contact is important. It shows the person that you are listening and that you care about what is being said.
  • Mutual understanding is important. It does a world of good to let the person know you are trying to help them and understand what they have to say.
  • Discussions with an Alzheimer's patient are sometimes rambling, disjointed things. That's okay. Be careful not to interrupt, or argue with them.
  • When words fail, ask the person to gesture to what it is they want or need. Often they will recognize something visually, even if they can't articulate what it is.
  • Speak simply and plainly. Use short, concise words.
  • When speaking to someone, approach them from the front. Remind them who you are, and call them by name. This helps orient them and it gets their attention.
  • Feelings, rather than facts, are often of greater importance to an Alzheimer's patient. Try not to rely on logic to sway them or to get them to understand you.
  • Conversation can be slow. Take your time, repeat things as necessary and try to be patient enough to wait when they have trouble ordering their thoughts.

Living as an Alzheimer's patient or as a caregiver of one is never easy, but with these helpful hints, and compassion, understanding and love, you can help make this period in their lives a little more peaceful.

Copyright © 2012

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