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Alzheimer’s & Dementia: How To Communicate Better With Your Loved One

Wendy Rickenbach-Barclay, Owner-Certified Senior Advisor

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, there are currently 5.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and this number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million by 2050.  Every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease. Currently 16.1 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

Forgetfulness, agitation and frustration, social withdraw, and difficulty with daily tasks, are all symptoms of Dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most progressive form of dementia. As the “tangles” in the Alzheimer’s brain become unattached, they disrupt the communication in the brain. An estimated seven out of ten residents in assisted living experience cognitive impairment. One of the most common signs of cognitive impairment is forgetfulness.

It can be challenging to interact with a loved one who is forgetful. We sometimes stumble over the obvious and say things like:
. “Mom, don’t you remember?”
. “Honey, we just talked about this!”
. “I already told you. Weren’t you paying attention?”

As a family member, you may find the reminders, repetitions and recriminations seem to take over your conversations, which can be frustrating to you and your loved one. For your well-being and theirs, make the most of your in-person visits by focusing on your relationship, rather than their remembering.

Here are seven suggestions on how to maximize each moment with your loved one.

1. Share a warm touch. Offer more than the perfunctory hello or goodbye hug. Sit near your loved one and hold their hand while you chat.

2. Be present. Being in the moment with your loved one takes energy and focus. Put away your phone to limit distractions. Make frequent eye contact and smile.

3. Savor the silence. Enjoy the pauses and lulls in conversation. Simply sitting sit-by-side in peace and quiet is soothing and nurtures your relationship.

4. Follow a routine. Develop a ritual for your visit: Go for a walk, share a cup of tea, chat about other family members or sort through the mail together. Having a familiar pattern to your time together takes the stress out of what to do, say and recall. If you try something new, keep the activity simple and break it down into a few steps.

5. Stir up happy emotions. Bring along an old photo that you can talk about together. Ignite good memories through pictures or other mementos. That may lead to a wonderful conversation.

6. Listen to music. Singing along to a favorite song is a lot more fun than trying to get them to report exact details about an activity or event. Create a playlist with some of their beloved tunes so you can play a song to ease stress or liven up the moment.

7. Accept imperfections. Yes, there will be mistakes and mishaps. Your loved one didn’t choose forgetfulness. Allow them to recall what they can and utilize the strengths that remain. Their memory challenges can be an opportunity for you to develop patience, compassion and understanding.

The needs of your loved one may change in the future due to increased forgetfulness. At some point, your loved one may require a higher level of care. In those circumstances, CarePatrol can help find safer senior living. Call us for a personalized approach to navigate the various living options for your loved one. We are here for you in all stages of the journey.

At CarePatrol of Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch, Safer Senior Living is Our Mission. We are a NO COST community service and we look forward to serving you! Call us today at (941) 237-0846.

Call us Today at 941-237-0846

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