Written for WTAD White Pages 4-7-17
You’ll eventually know someone with Alzheimer’s disease (A.D.). Percentages are expected to increase exponentially. Watching Dad succumb has been educational, at best. At worst, “It aint’ purty.” A day doesn’t pass, when someone doesn’t mention their family is dealing with A.D. Check out these hacks for improving communication.
A dopt a smile before entering their room. (Fake or real, they won’t care.)
L et them lead the conversation, even if it’s nonsensical. If Dad mumbles, I either answer randomly or agree with him. Nobody insists it must make sense.
Z ip your mouth when you get the urge to argue. It’s not worth it. Nobody wins.
H ave your phone handy. Show photos. Play music. It possesses power for persons with various dementias. Select hits from their 18-25 adult years. Observe their reaction. Some music sparks happy memories, some triggers sad ones. Note bobbing head and tapping feet. With Dad, it’s not a tremor. It’s his mojo!
E ngage in conversation around someone with A.D. Even the sound of your voice can be soothing.
I nvest in a baby doll. Watch someone with A.D. cradle, rock and love it. It’s soothing. I believe there’s an innate sense to feel needed. Even better, bring a real baby or puppy!
M ake eye contact. (Not with the puppy…the person!)
E ncourage staff to share funny situations you may have missed. “Laughter is like a dry diaper. It doesn’t take care of the problem, but it makes it bearable for a while.” Michael Pritchard.
R esolve to sloooooooow your pace. Especially if feeding them! They can’t go from 0 to 110 anymore.
S o, they don’t know you. It stinks. It’s the disease. Dad thinks I’m a waitress. He calls me, “Babe.” (He knows me!) Then I realize he calls everybody, “Babe”. (Sigh…)