Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Listen to Alzheimer’s Victims, Then Talk

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By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

A friend has a running gag in which he tells someone he received a solicitation for a contribution to the Alzheimer’s Association but he forgot where he put it.
The association does  more than request donations. It offers advice to Alzheimer’s sufferers and caregivers. The organization suggests strongly that each family plan for the onset of this frustrating disease by one of its members.

The AA urges victims to be candid about their disease and, at the appearance of its signs, to discuss symptoms with relatives and friends.

Stress and lowered self-esteem are sidebar symptoms of this disease, according to experts.

Maintaining open lines of communication with people doomed by dementia are critical to keeping victims, caregivers, relatives and friends on as even a keel as possible as the disability progresses.

So listen

That’s first of a half dozen steps recommended by the AA to everyone around an Alzheimer’s sufferer: listen.

Communicating with an Alzheimer’s victim requires patience and understanding, so those around such a person must be good listeners. And they must let the sufferer know they are listening, are being patient, and are trying to understand what he or she is saying.

And be a comfort, not a critic.

If the person is having difficulty finding the right word or phrase, encourage him or her to take time and continue to explain. Don’t cut in and correct the speaker. You can repeat what was said if you feel some clarification is needed.

Without adding to the Alzheimer’s sufferer further, you can often guess what he or she means or wants, even though incorrect words have been used. Don’t argue with a person affected by Alzheimer’s because that only exacerbates any emotional turmoil

Be open to feelings, not just facts

This is probably the most important matter to remember when dealing with anyone suffering the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Many times the emotions being expressed by the victim are more important than the words used. The tone of voice can help you search for the feelings behind the phrases.

Words often are unnecessary.

If you don’t understand what’s being said, ask  the Alzheimer’s-afflicted person to point or gesture to let you know what he or she wants.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 19, 2012 at 12:05 am

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