Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Talking to loved ones with Dementia

This morning, many caregivers likely are preparing for holiday visits from friends and families. For caregivers who are providing care for loved ones with memory impairment, it may be helpful to give your visitors some tips on communicating with your loved one.

People who are experiencing early and middle stages of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia have difficulty processing information and responding to questions or conversation. They may also have problems finding their words, which means it takes them much longer to maintain their end of the conversation.

For those who are experiencing middle stage dementia, they may respond with short sentences or even single word answers. Regardless of the stage of the illness, it is important to keep in mind that caregivers and friends should modify their communication techniques in order to avoid frustration or agitation in the person with memory impairment.

Tips for communicating with a person who is experiencing memory impairment include allowing extra time for him to respond and paying attention to his cues to determine if he is comprehending or following the conversation. For example, instead of asking several things at once or frequently changing the subject, stick with one subject at a time and give the person ample time to respond before asking another question or moving on in the conversation.

If the person with memory impairment is responding with short phrases or single words, that is a sign that it is easier for him to process and respond to information in that manner. It is important to consistently use shorter, simpler words as the disease progresses.

A golden rule of interacting with a person with dementia is to make every effort to avoid saying "Don't you remember..." If he does not recall what you are discussing.

When using reminiscence, it is better to talk about the good times you have had with the person rather than frequently asking if he remembers every detail of the event.

When attempting to help the person with a task, it is easier for him if you ask questions that can be answered "yes" or "no" rather than open-ended questions that require the person to process the information and come up with an answer.

Most important, if you are entertaining guests in your home, it is important to be open and honest about your loved one's memory impairment. Information and education are powerful tools that allow everyone involved the opportunity to help make life less stressful for you as a caregiver and your loved one who is experiencing memory impairment.

By Dotty St. Amand,executive director of the Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer's Resource Center in Fort Myers, which provides support groups and other services in the Lee County area.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

1 comment:

David Tal said...

Dementia can be caused by different reasons. Sometimes it can be a brain injury. Yet, at times other disease such as Alzheimer's disease, Pick disease, Wilson's disease and many other can be major causes of dementia. Although different reasons behind this condition may exist, a slight change in lifestyle can really help in preventing it.

Dementia specialist