Archive for January 2015

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Breaking the News When It’s Alzheimer’s

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

 Why Informing Others Is Important: When a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s it is usually very difficult to decide whether or not to make the diagnosis public, but there are many advantages to doing so. One is that it will help others be more understanding and compassionate with the diagnosed person. In addition, revealing the diagnosis gives friends and family members an opportunity to participate in planning for the future. Perhaps one of the most important reasons to go public is that it enables the patient and the caregiver to receive understanding and emotional support.

How to Let People Know: First, decide who will announce the news – the person who was just diagnosed, a family member, or close friend. The announcement may be made at a family meeting or you may want to inform people individually. Sometimes sending out a letter can be helpful because it gives people time to digest the news before talking with you about it. This avoids putting them on the spot.

Special Issues to Consider When Informing a Teenager or Child: Be especially thoughtful when informing young people about the illness. It’s important to be honest with them about the situation. With younger children you need to use simple language they can understand. Tell them the basic facts but don’t give more information than you feel they can handle.

If You Decide to Keep It Confidential: You have the right, of course, to keep the diagnosis confidential, but realize this can sometimes lead to stress for everyone involved. It prevents both the patient and the caregiver from getting much-needed support from friends and family members.

3 Things Alzheimer’s Caregivers Should Never Do

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Don’t Be in Denial

When a loved one shows signs of dementia it’s painful to acknowledge it. It’s common for their friends and loved ones to be in denial. It’s easy to ignore the symptoms, make excuses for the person, or push the symptoms to the back of your mind.

The problem with denial is it doesn’t lead you to take your loved one to a primary care physician or neurologist for a complete workup. And the problem with that is that sometimes dementia is caused by health issues other than Alzheimer’s. Some of those problems can be treated or even reversed.

Don’t Ask “Do You Remember?”

Asking a person with Alzheimer’s if they remember something is a common mistake that’s easy to make. It’s almost as though we think we can jog their memory. But we rarely do. They have probably forgotten the event in question. That’s what people with Alzheimer’s do. They forget. So it’s better to say, “I remember when . . . ” and then tell them a story.

Don’t Argue With or Contradict the Person         

You can never win an argument with people who have dementia. They will stick to their guns to the bitter end! It’s much better to agree with them and then change the subject. This can prevent a nasty argument that would spoil your time with your loved one.

10 More Tips for Visiting People With Alzheimer’s

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Here are 10 more tips for visiting people with Alzheimer’s:

  1. Make eye contact
  2. Only ask one question at a time
  3. Talk about the old days more than recent information
  4. Do not correct or argue with the person
  5. Use their name frequently while talking
  6. Don’t visit if you find they already have a visitor; wait until that person leaves
  7. Don’t even bring up topics that might upset them
  8. Arrange for a musician to provide live music
  9. Watch old movies with them
  10. Ask open-ended questions


10 Tips for Visiting a Person With Alzheimer’s

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Introduction: Many people simply don’t know how to interact with or entertain people who have Alzheimer’s. The following tips will help you improve the quality of your visits. With a little thought and visiting experience you may come up with more tips yourself. In my next post I’ll publish 10 more tips.

  1. Speak Slowly and in Short Sentences
  2. Don’t Ask Them if They Remember Something
  3. Keep Visiting Even Though They May Not Remember Who You Are
  4. If the Person Starts Getting Agitated, Stop What You’re Doing and Change the Activity or Subject
  5. Take a Pet or Child to Visit Them
  6. Take Art Supplies and Have Them Draw or Paint
  7. Play a CD of Music for the Person
  8. Take Them a Small Wrapped Gift
  9. Play Simple Games With Them
  10. Look at Old Photographs Together

Writing Poetry With a Person Who Has Alzheimer’s

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

I volunteer to visit some ladies with Alzheimer’s at a local memory care facility. One of “My Ladies” is Ruth. One day when I was visiting Ruth I got the idea of writing some poems together. I decided we’d write happy poems. I decided to simply start off by saying what I thought would be a first good line for an amusing poem, then raise my right arm toward her and look at her expectantly as though to say, “You say the next line.”

This worked extremely well. We typically alternated lines – I’d say a line, then she followed with the next. What surprised me was that in most cases she immediately spouted off a line that not only logically followed mine, but also rhymed with it.

Our first one was about the birds and the bees. Here it is:

The Birds and Bees

The birds and the bees

Crawl on their knees and

Do as they please.

They don’t have flees –

Those birds and bees.

Seeing how happy Ruth was to actively participate in writing the poems I decided we’d keep doing it.