How to Communicate with Alzheimer's

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
Introduction

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(excerpted from Introduction, pages 2-3)

The Conditions that Can Impair Communication

As previously mentioned, the terms Alzheimer’s, dementia, confusion and memory loss will be repeated often, sometimes just as Alzheimer’s and/or dementia. Each time all or any part of this phrase is mentioned, it will serve to be inclusive of a number of conditions that can impair communication. These conditions can include but are not limited to:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Dementia
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Head Injury
  • Parkinson’s
  • AIDS Dementia Complex
  • Chronic Illnesses (heart conditions, diabetes, respiratory problems, cancer)
  • Sensory Deprivation (decreased vision & hearing)
  • Drugs and Medications
  • Problems with Nutrition
  • Alcohol and other Substance Abuse Problems
  • Balance and Movement Problems

Keep in mind that the person you are dealing with may have one or a combination of these conditions that can affect the communication process. Alzheimer’s is very prevalent, but so are the other conditions listed above. All of them have the potential to manifest a dementia, confusion or memory loss problem. All of them have the potential to impair communication.

©2004-2017 GRANNY’S ROCKER PUBLISHING

Chapter 1: What’s So Important About Communication?

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(excerpted from chapter 1, page 8)

The Importance of Communication

Communication is essential to the following:

  • Meeting our individual needs for food and shelter
  • Fulfilling basic social and emotional needs
  • Meeting our need for self-actualization
  • Extending power and control over others
  • Providing information, praise and support

Persons with Alzheimer’s and related dementias exhibit deteriorating communication skills. As the disease progresses they experience declining ability in communicating and cannot get their emotional, physical and medical needs met.
However, this does not mean that they are incapable of communicating, incapable of essential and quality interaction, incapable of expressing needs and wants. For people with dementia it is important to understand that their communication can be…

facilitated.
The facilitation of communication comes from us. We can change the way we communicate with them on a daily basis. It is clear that people with dementia are definitely living longer and so we need to learn to communicate with them. They have a great deal to tell us and they can if we make the adjustments that will help them express their desires.

©2004-2017 GRANNY’S ROCKER PUBLISHING

  • Chapter 2: The Deterioration of Communication Skills in the Progression of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Chapter 3: Communication Strengths of Persons with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

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(excerpted from chapter 3, page 29)

Routine

Everyone likes a “routine.” There is security in the familiar, knowing the what, where and when of things to happen. This is so true for the elderly. They have established routines of daily rituals in personal care, which include grooming, dressing and eating meals, for example; to social activities like going to the park, sitting on the same bench with the same group of folks for a daily chat. These routines have been embedded in their days for many years. They can do their routines without really thinking about them too much, and they don’t have to make any “new” decisions. They are secure in their day, feeling safe that they know what is going to happen.

Take away what is routine and familiar and you have a person who is “working without a net,” (see page 19). You have now placed them in a situation that requires new attention, new memory and mostly “uncertainty.”

Helping to establish and keep a “routine” will facilitate success in their daily activities.

Helping to establish and keep a “routine” will facilitate their orientation. They will become more successful tracking the time of day and day of the week when they have a “routine.”

Helping to establish and keep a “routine” reduces restlessness and creates serenity.

©2004-2017 GRANNY’S ROCKER PUBLISHING

Chapter 4: Communication Strategies Effective in Communicating with Persons Who Have Alzheimer’s and Dementia

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(excerpted from chapter 4, pages 54-55)

Strategy #7 – Use Touch

The use of touch in communication is very important. It can calm and reassure us. It can be used to provide a non-verbal form of communicating information.

Touch also provides basic affection that all human beings need. Touch can say “I love you.”

A wonderful way to use touch can be upon approach to let the person know you are there, especially if they have difficulty seeing or hearing. Touch will assure them of your friendly intentions. It also lets them know you are about to talk to them which will raise their attention and give them a moment to begin processing information.

How to Communicate with Alzheimer's

Strategy #7 – Use Touch
The Do’s and Don’ts

  • Don’t be afraid to use touch
  • Use it upon approach to signal a person who may not be able to see you or hear you approaching
  • Use it throughout your conversation to sustain attention
  • Use it to calm and reassure
  • Use it for attention
  • Use touch to reinforce attention on specific information
  • Use it to communicate non-verbally
  • Use it to say “I love you”

©2004-2017 GRANNY’S ROCKER PUBLISHING

  • Chapter 5: Activities to Do with Persons Who Have Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Chapter 6: Troubleshooting Difficult Behavior

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(excerpted from chapter 6, page 78)

Problem: Emotional Outburst
Problem: Anger

Solution: Communication Strategies
Solution:#1 Get Their Attention
Solution:#2 Speak in a Calm Tone of Voice
Solution:#3 Watch Your Language
Solution:#7 Use Touch
Solution:#8 Learn to Be a Good Listener

Other Suggestions:

  • Watch your own body language as you approach, move slowly, keep arms and hands low and visible
  • Remove the person from noise, find a quiet area if possible
  • If they respond to a favorite song, hum or sing softly–try a walkman with a cassette of music
  • Distract with a favorite activity, or hold an object of comfort (a stuffed toy, doll, photograph or book)
  • If the person is incontinent, check for soiled clothing
  • Follow up with your doctor if outbursts are a new or escalating behavior

©2004-2017 GRANNY’S ROCKER PUBLISHING

  • Chapter 7: Understanding Your Role
  • Chapter 8: Where to Go for Help
  • Appendix: What Will We Talk About? What Can We Do Together?
  • Keep a Sample Biography
  • Holidays and Celebrations
  • Topics for Conversation
  • Jokes and Riddles
  • Song Lyrics
  • Things to Do at Home
  • Dietary Considerations
  • Bibliography
  • A Prayer
  • About the Author

©2017 GRANNY’S ROCKER PUBLISHING • SITE DESIGN BY THETA MEDIA GROUP

How to Communicate with Alzheimer's

How to
Communicate
with
Alzheimer’s

Susan Kohler
0-9753165-0-8
April 2004
Spiral Bound
152 pages
$17.95 US/Canada
eBook – $9.95

 

How to Communicate with Alzheimer's

How to
Communicate
with
Alzheimer’s

Susan Kohler
0-9753165-0-8
Spiral Bound
152 pages
$17.95 US/Canada
eBook – $9.95

 

How to Communicate with Alzheimer's