Posts Tagged ‘tips’

10 Tips for Nonverbal Communication

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
  1. Don’t Talk From Behind Them: Despite your best efforts you may sometimes forget this one, as described above.
  1. Make Eye Contact: This tip is related to the one above. If you’re standing behind the person you can’t make eye contact.
  1. Be at Their Level: If both you and they are standing that’s fine. But if they’re sitting on a chair it’s best if you kneel in front. This is especially important if they are in a wheelchair. Otherwise they will have to look up at you and they may feel you’re towering over them.
  1. Use Therapeutic Touch: People with Alzheimer’s may yearn to be touched, but you should ask for permission first and tell the person what you are going to do. Otherwise they may become alarmed.
  1. Don’t Make Sudden Movements: This, too, may scare the person.
  1. Offer to Shake Hands Every Time You Visit: They probably won’t remember you did it the last time. Put your hand out; they may reach for yours. If not let it go. This tip is related to therapeutic touch.
  1. Use Laughter. Alzheimer’s is a deadly serious disease. Nonetheless, sometimes laughter is the best medicine. Be sure to have some light-hearted stories to tell the person at each visit. I have found they may counter by telling you a funny story. Just be sure you’re laughing with the person, not at them.
  1. Use Visual Cues: Point, touch or hand them the item you want them to use. For example, if you want them to drink some water, point to it or put a full glass near them and/or then pick it up and hand it to them.
  1. Palms up: Never sit with your arms crossed. This tends to convey anger just as it does when interacting with a person who does not have dementia. If you have your palms up it will probably be interpreted by the person as “I’m receptive to you” or “Take my hand” or “I like you.”
  1. Smile a Lot: This is probably the most important guideline of all. You will want to do this at any time (except if the conversation is more serious), but particularly when you’re telling the person something pleasant or humorous and when the person is telling you something of a like nature.

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

15 Tips for Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Friday, December 19th, 2014
  1. Become an educated caregiver: Some useful sites for educating yourself are the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Reading Room. Also, attend any caregiving seminars presented in your community.
  2. Ask for help – and accept it: Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Getting help can make a major difference in your life.
  3. Take care of yourself: Try to eat well, exercise regularly and visit your doctor when needed.
  4. Give yourself credit – not guilt: Make a list of all the things you are doing correctly and look at it frequently.
  5. Consult a geriatric care manager: Geriatric care managers are specialists who help families care for elderly relatives. They can provide valuable information and resources you will need to help you through these difficult times.
  6. Contact the Alzheimer’s Association for help: The Alzheimer’s Association ( has a 24/7 help line. Just call 1-800-272-3900.
  7. Contact the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America for help: This organization ( has a help line operated between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. Call 1-866-232-8484.
  8. Study and put into practice “The Caregiver’s Bill of Rights:” You can find this document here.
  9. See a psychotherapist: If your stress level is very high or if you are feeling depressed, a therapist might be able to help you.
  10. Consult with your spiritual leader: If you are a religious person your spiritual leader might also be able to help you.
  11. Join a support group: Support groups can be helpful for Alzheimer’s caregivers, even if you just listen in.
  12. See a family therapist if there is conflict in your family: If there is a lot of conflict among family members consider seeing a family therapist.
  13. Keep a journal: Writing about your experiences and feelings every day can also be therapeutic.
  14. Learn how to get along better with your loved one: Here are three quick tips: Don’t contradict or argue with them, Don’t bring up subjects that might upset them, and if they do get upset quickly change the subject. Following these tips will lead to a better relationship.
  15. Take up a hobby about which you become passionate. It’s important to have time to yourself. Find a hobby you love. It can make a big difference.

NOTE: A few of these tips are based on ones presented by the Alzheimer’s Association.

How to Visit a Friend With Alzheimer’s

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Family members or other very close loved ones who are accustomed to visiting may have a set routine and may have learned some or all of the tips below. But if you’re a friend visiting for the first time, or if you don’t visit the person very often, you may feel awkward and not know what to do.

I have compiled these tips based on four sources, including an article of mine published on the Huffington Post, an article published by Carole Larkin on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, and personal communications from Teepa Snow (05.30.13) and Tom and Karen Brenner (10.03.13)

When I reviewed the sources I discovered that several tips were found in two or more of them.

  1. Start off by looking friendly, making eye contact, offering a handshake and introducing yourself (Snow, Larkin)
  1. Be at their level physically – bend down if necessary – for example, if they are in a wheelchair. (Larkin)
  1. Talk about the old times more than recent information (Snow)
  1. Don’t ask if they remember something (Marley; Larkin)
  1. Speak calmly, slowly and in short sentences (Larkin, Snow)
  1. Ask only one question at the time and pause between thoughts or ideas to give them a chance to answer. (Larkin, Snow)
  1. Don’t correct them or argue with them (Marley, Larkin, Snow)
  1. Keep memories positive. Don’t bring up topics that could upset them. Turn negatives into positives (Marley, Snow, Larkin)
  1. Do something with the person rather than just talking to them. Bring pictures, CDs of music the person used to enjoy, or other “props” (such as items related to one of the person’s special interests), to bring up old memories. (Snow, Brenners)
  1. Tell them what you are going to do before you do it – especially if you are going to touch them. (Larkin)

Following these tips should make you feel more at ease and make your visit more enjoyable.

Does anyone have any additional tips for visiting a friend with Alzheimer’s?


5 Tips for Dealing With Family Conflict

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Having a family member with Alzheimer’s disease is a stressful situation that can create conflict within families.

The Mayo clinic has the following advice for families where there is significant strife: 1) Share responsibility, 2) Meet face-to-face regularly, 3) Ask someone to mediate if needed, 4) Be honest and don’t criticize, 5) Join a support group, and/or seek family counseling.

In my case the closest family member, who lived out of town, insisted that Ed only needed to go to an assisted living facility. I knew that wouldn’t work because of his incontinence (of both bowel and bladder), because he couldn’t have found his way back and forth to dining room and, furthermore, he wouldn’t have even wanted to go to the dining room. Neither was he capable or showering and dressing himself or do his own laundry – and the list goes on and on. I was certain they would have asked him to leave after two or three days.

There was tremendous conflict between the two of us, and, unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of the tips above and we didn’t follow any of them. The conflict didn’t disappear until Ed had passed away and there was no longer anything to argue about.


Another Resource for You:

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

I have mentioned many resources for caregivers on this blog, including AARP’s sections on caregiving and The Alzheimers Reading Room, just to mention two. I recently discovered a new website dedicated exclusively to supporting caregivers. Although not limited exclusively to Alzheiemer’s caregiving,, has many articles and tips about caring for people with Alzheimer’s. It also publishes a helpful magazine, “Today’s Caregiver.” Check it out.

10 Tips for Visiting a Friend With Alzheimer’s

Thursday, November 7th, 2013


  1. Start off by looking friendly, making eye contact, offering a handshake and introducing yourself.
  2. Be at their level physically – bend down if necessary – for example, if they are in a wheelchair.
  3. Talk about the old times more than recent information.
  4. Don’t ask if they remember something.
  5. Speak calmly, slowly and in short sentences.
  6. Ask only one question at the time and pause between thoughts or ideas to give them a chance to answer.
  7. Don’t correct them or argue with them.
  8. Keep memories positive. Don’t bring up topics that could upset them. Turn negatives into positives.
  9. Do something with the person rather than just talking to them. Bring pictures, CDs of music the person used to enjoy, or other “props” (such as items related to one of the person’s special interests), to bring up old memories.
  10. Tell them what you are going to do before you do it – especially if you are going to touch them.

Following these tips should make you feel more at ease and make your visit more enjoyable.

Note: These tips were compiled from publications by me and by Carole Larkin, and from personal communications from Teepa Snow and from Tom and Karen Brenner.

Caregiving Pearls

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

1.    Don’t Be in Denial: It’s only natural to be in denial when a loved one begins to show signs of dementia, but that only prevents the person from getting a diagnosis, starting treatment, and planning for the future.

 2.    Don’t Ask, “Do You Remember?” Of course they can’t remember. If they could remember they wouldn’t be diagnosed with dementia. Asking if they remember some person or event could make them frustrated.

 3.    Do Interact With the Person at His or Her Level:  You may want to interact with the person the way you always have, but that isn’t going to be possible. Instead, figure out at what age they appear to be behaving, then connect with them at that level.

 4.    To Connect With People Who Have Alzheimer’s, Put Something Meaningful in Their Hand: This is a valuable tip provided by Tom and Karen Brenner in their book, You Say Goodbye and We Say Hello: The Montessori Method for Positive Dementia Care. You may have to experiment some to find out what is meaningful to any specific person.

 5.    To Connect With People With Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Try Introducing Them to Children, Pets, Music or Art:  These four activities will often reach people in the late stages of the illness – even if they hardly talk anymore. 

6.    Don’t Argue, Correct or Disagree: You can’t win an argument with a person who has dementia – so don’t even try. Neither should you contradict them. It will make them dig in their heels even more strongly.

 7.    Don’t Bring up Topics That May Upset the Person: If you know your loved one will get upset if you talk about politics, for example, don’t start the conversation in the first place. It will probably lead to a battle you don’t want to have.

 8.    Do Quickly Change the Subject If the Person Does Get Upset: If the person does get upset one of the best things you can do is redirect their attention to something else, preferable something pleasant.

 9.    Don’t Quit Visiting When the Person Doesn’t Know Who You Are:  Just because your loved one does not recognize you doesn’t mean they have no feelings. People with Alzheimer’s may enjoy being visited even if they don’t know precisely who the visitor is.

 10.  Do Take Care of Yourself:  Being an Alzheimer’s caregiver is hard work. The gold standard book on Alzheimer’s caregiving isn’t entitled The 36-Hour Day for nothing. Take good care of yourself for your benefit and for the good of the person for whom you’re caring. You can’t be an effective, compassionate caregiver if you’re exhausted and burned out all the time.


5 Things Alzheimer’s Caregivers Should Never Do

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Don’t Be in Denial: When a loved one shows signs of dementia 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, and 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. 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. 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: If you’re caring for someone with dementia it’s so easy to contradict or argue with them when they say things that are total nonsense. And they typically say a lot of things that fall into this category. But it’s much better to agree with them and then change the subject. This can prevent a nasty argument.

Don’t Delay Nursing Home Placement When It’s Clearly Needed: At some point it may (but not always) become evident that you can no longer care for the person at home. Mid- to late-stage patients need nursing staff and aides 24 hours a day and a physician on call at all times. They also need a dietician, a cook, a housekeeper, an activity director and many more professionals. And they need to have people around them to provide social stimulation. Sometimes placing the person in a reputable institution is indeed the most loving choice for the patient.

Don’t Stop Visiting When Your Loved One No Longer Recognizes You: Many people think that there’s no reason to visit a loved one who no longer recognizes them, but I am firmly convinced that you should visit anyway. First of all the person may enjoy being visited even if he or she doesn’t quite know who is visiting them. More importantly, it’s possible that the person does recognize you but simply isn’t able to say so.

Do any of you have suggestions of other things an Alzheimer’s caregiver should never do?

25 Tips for Coping With Early Alzheimer’s Memory Problems

Monday, January 7th, 2013

This post is much longer than my usual ones, but I feel it’s important enough to make it that long.

If you have early Alzheimer’s, the associated memory loss can impair your ability to do simple as well as complicated tasks. Here are 25 tips that will help you compensate for your declining memory.

  • Cook in the microwave as often as possible rather than on the stove so it won’t matter if you go off and forget it.
  • Make lists of things you have to do and always put them in the same place. Make sticky note reminders and put them in places where you’re sure to see them.
  • If you get distracted while trying to drive with other people in the car, let someone else drive.
  • Make a shopping list even if there are only three or four items on it. It may save you from having to return to the store.
  • Never leave the room when water is running in a sink or bathtub. You may forget about it and cause a flood.
  • Put things you’ll need when you go out (phone, glasses, etc.) right beside your keys to be sure you’ll remember to take them. This works because you most likely won’t go anywhere without your keys.
  • If a task is too complicated for you don’t even try to do it if it’s just going to frustrate you. Try to find someone else to do it even if you have to pay them.
  • If you use a laptop for work, put it right in front of the door in the morning so you won’t forget to take it to work.
  • It isn’t advisable to use the stove but it you do, stay right there to avoid forgetting it and burning up the pan or starting a fire.
  • If you’re going to a meeting make a detailed list of what you want to say.
  •  If you forget the date or day of the week are, look on your cell phone.
  • It isn’t advisable to burn candles, but if you do, put them very far from all other objects in case you forget to extinguish them.If you have trouble remembering people’s names just greet them without saying their name. It’s better than calling them by the wrong name.
  • Print out important documents in your computer so if you can’t find them or you accidentally delete them, you’ll still have copies that could be retyped.
  • Put objects in prominent places to remind you to do things. For example, putting a laundry basket on the floor in the middle of a room will remind you to do the laundry.
  • When you call someone, write down your phone number and put it beside the phone in case you have to leave a voice mail requesting a return call and you can’t remember your number on the spot.
  • If you are learning anything new – even something simple – write down exactly how to do it for future reference, especially if it’s something you won’t be doing very often.
  • If you can’t follow along in courses or seminars don’t go to them. Instead get a book or a tutor so you can learn at your own pace.
  • Make a general rule not to spend too much time looking for things you’ve misplaced. They may be in some strange place and will turn up only later when you’re doing something else.
  • Try to always put your keys, glasses, etc. in the same place.
  • Use pill boxes to remind you to take medication.
  • Consider doing things when they’re on your mind rather than later so you don’t have to worry about forgetting them. This helps reduce stress.
  • If driving to certain places (such as the airport) is too stressful, have someone else drive or take a bus or taxi.
  • Above all, stick to the same daily routine as much as possible. This, too, reduces stress.

You may wonder how you can remember all these tips, and that’s a good question. I recommend you start with a few, then add others as time goes by. Also, put this list somewhere you’ll see it. Finally, if you live with other people, ask them to remind you of the items on the list.

While these tips won’t help you compensate for all memory problems, they can go a long way toward improving your functioning despite your condition.

This list is not complete by any means. Do any of you have some strategies to add to it?