One of the most difficult things for families and care giver’s is the change in communication that comes with the progression of Alzheimer’s/Dementia (A/D). Persons with A/D are no longer able to perceive the world as we see it, yet we continue to try to converse and make them understand in the same old ways, creating frustration on both sides of the conversation.
One of the best things I have learned is to stop asking questions!
“What did you do today?”
“What did you have for supper?”
“Where do you want to go?”
“Would you like a cup of coffee?”
All these questions create a challenge for those with A/D. Now they have to remember what the question was from the beginning to the end. Then they have to ask themselves questions:
“What is today?”
“Did I eat?”
“Where am I now?”
“Am I supposed to make the coffee?”
This creates turmoil within themselves as they try to determine what they are supposed to say, which often leads to the safest answers possible:
“I didn’t eat.”
“I don’t want to go.”
And of course, the safest answer of all, the one that will always protect them, the reflexive, “NO”
Instead learn to make positive statements:
“It looks like you had a great day today!”
“Supper is yummy! You only have a little bit of corn left and you are finished!”
“Come with me, I have something to show you.”
“I’m going to have a cup of coffee. I made you one just as you like it.”
It is not easy to learn to converse in statements, but with practice it will lead to less stress for all parties involved.
One other quick tip is: Please don’t try to correct the person with A/D. Just be present in their reality, accepting where they are, in their world, at this moment, and enjoying wherever the interaction takes you!