Communicating with someone who has Alzheimer's can be a challenge, but remembering that logic does not triumph can make it easier. In fact, trying to be logical will not win the "argument"; and, in fact, many times it will only make it more difficult.
How to Talk with Someone Who Has Alzheimer's or Memory Loss~ Communication & Short Term Memory Loss
Communicating with someone who has Alzheimer's can sometimes be very difficult; however, by adding a few tools to your communication toolbox, it can be made much easier.
Being too Logical Can Actually Be Very Illogical!?!
Remember, It's the First Time
When communicating with someone who has Alzheimer's disease (AD), the first thing you need to do is to take a deep breath and relax. People suffering from AD may not always understand what is being said, but they do understand body language.
Sometimes by being illogical, you bec...
If you are stressed and anxious, it is likely that they too will be stressed and anxious. If you appear to be angry or upset, there is a very good chance they will think you are angry or upset with them. Depending on their personality, this will either cause them to reciprocate with the same feelings, or become depressed and/or fearful. So it is best that you appear to be calm and relaxed.
One of the best pieces of advice to help put so many things into perspective is this: When the person with Alzheimer's tells you something or asks you something, you have to act like it is the very first time you are hearing this information, because in their mind it is the very first time they are sharing it. Because of their short term memory loss, they do not realize that they have previously shared this exact same information, often multiple times.
No matter how many times you attempt to tell them that they asked the same question 5 minutes ago, and 10 minutes ago, and 11 minutes ago, and 12 minutes ago..., they will not see it that way. Our frustration will become their frustration, and then some. And it's an uphill battle from there. It's much easier for us to make a slight shift (pretending it is the first time we are hearing the information), than to be in constant turmoil over things that in the long run will not even matter.
Communication is very Important for A...
It's Illogical to be Logical!
If we become frustrated and angry because we don't understand why a person with Alzheimer's just doesn't seem to get it - after all, it's so logical to us; then in actuality it's us who've missed the point. In dealing with someone who has Alzheimer's, it is illogical to be logical.
In situations where we become frustrated and angry, they will not understand our anger, but they will understand our displeasure. And this in turn will cause them frustration in a world that is already making less and less sense, which then has the potential of making the situation even worse for both of you. If we continue to be frustrated with them, then they will sense this and soon shut down.
It's Easier to Withdraw
For the person with Alzheimer's, it's easier to withdraw than trying to please someone who cannot seem to be pleased. How many times do we have to hear that we are doing something wrong before we finally quit trying, especially when we are performing to the best of our ability? Why should we think it would be any different for them?
And it is good to remember, people with Alzheimer's are performing to the best of their ability. They are not doing things and saying things just to make us mad. They did not forget on purpose. They are doing the very best that they can with the resources (brain power) they still have available to them. They cannot change, so we must.
If human nature has gotten the better of us, and it will, then there will be times that we do become frustrated with the situation or the person suffering from Alzheimer's. We may find that we are in a situation that has begun to deteriorate or escalate, and go places that we really didn't want to go. Don't continue to try to reason with them...this would be like knocking your head against the wall. It really will get you no where. Take a deep breath, and say a quick prayer. Even remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes if you can safely do so.
Sometimes Being Illogical Keeps Every...
Distraction is a Tool
Add it to Your Tool Box
After collecting your composure, come back to the present situation and change the subject to something that they find enjoyable. Distract them with an activity that they find pleasant. Change the atmosphere. Distraction is a tool that you will find to be very useful. Keep it handy. That is the logical course of action. Doing what is right for the person with Alzheimer's will ultimately be what is right for all concerned. Logical or not!
Cindy Murdoch is the founder and owner of On the Wings of Angels. Her agency provides non-medical in home care for adults, and many of her clients struggle with the issues of Alzheimer's and dementia.
©Copyright 2012 Cindy Murdoch
All Rights Reserved
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