>Strategies To Help Ease Communication Struggles

>Repost from
Ability for Life

Alzheimer’s Disease and Communication Strategies to help ease Communication Struggles

Posted in Aging at Home on February 8, 2011 by Kathy

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia often make communication attempts downright depressing. With short-term memory loss, it can become painful to connect with someone who seems ‘not there.’ However: there are strategies and tools that can turn darkness into light. What it often takes is a change of attitude, perspective and expectations on the part of the family.

The Alzheimer’s Reading Room gives 10 tips for communicating with Alzheimer’s patients, including: “Keep an even and upbeat tone:  As other senses diminish, Alzheimer’s patients are hyper tuned into emotions and may mirror yours if you’re impatient, upset, anxious or angry.”

The Alzheimer’s patient often asks the same question. Over and over. Consider note-writing to make this less stressful for both of you. Yes, a simple ‘text message’ on paper can relieve the burden of short-term memory loss. A Parade Magazine article shows the positive effect of  literally writing answers to questions that get asked a million times and giving them to the patient.

Doing something that gives purpose is a universal need, and can make a huge difference in connecting and communicating with Alzheimer’s patients. Purpose takes many forms, as care-giver Tina Murphy illustrates in her creative solutions to her father in law’s need for ‘purpose’.

Creativity is a wonderful outlet that gives purpose and provides a mechanism for communicating:the DVD I remember better when I paint shows the power of creative expression bypassing limitations.  A doctor reminds us: before children can properly express their feelings in words, artwork can speak for them. Another organization, Artists for Alzheimer’s is dedicated to the impact of the arts while Music Therapist, Amy Clement Cortez uses music to communicate feelings and foster relationships.

Memory Bridge is devoted to finding and keeping the human inside the disease. Watch videos on the Memory Bridge  Facebook page, and learn as Naomi Feil unlocks the person inside and communicates through touch, being in tune with physical ‘cues’ and a gospel song.

The Alzheimer’s Association “Principles for a Dignified Diagnosis of Dementia” includes a reminder that  “Alzheimer’s is a journey, not a destination.“

Take away:

Meet the Alzheimer’s patient where ‘they’ are: don’t argue or try to convince them
Remember: it’s worse for them than for you
There’s still a person locked inside
Christina Pochmursky TV Producer/Director, whose mother had Alzheimer’s said “Get over what you’re feeling. What they’re feeling is more important.”

I’ll welcome adding other communication strategies .
©Kathy Kastner


Posted on April 22, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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