September 15th, 2011 at 8:16 am
Bookmark and Share

Creative communication and Alzheimer’s

by Isabel Fawcett, SPHR

I regularly enjoy lively conversations with my mother who has dementia and resides in a nursing home. Some may say lively conversation is impossible with someone who has with dementia or Alzheimer’s. I say all things are possible when it comes to creativity in communication. If you try, you may even have fun conversing with your elder.

Alzheimer’s: conversation difficulties

The cluster of symptoms some caregivers associate with the decline and gradual progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients includes memory, cognitive and speech impairments. For some caregivers, once an elder’s communication gives way to speech decline, all bets are off, meaning that there is suddenly a great communication divide between the elder and his or her caregiver. Sometimes the communication gap is so great that all meaningful communication and interaction between the elder and caregiver comes to an abrupt halt.

Communicating and Alzheimer’s: what’s a caregiver to do?

If you don’t want to be frustrated all the time, you may want to consider rolling with the punches. Here is an example of a freestyle conversation that took place between me and my mother.

Mom: “Isa, is that you?…I was just sitting here…wondering….HI!!!!”

Me: “Hi, Mom! Yes, it’s me. I am so happy to hear your voice.”

Mom: “…why don’t you come pick me up and I will go with you wherever you’re going? Okay?”

Me: Silent, deep, nostalgic sigh. “I sure wish I could, Mom.”

Mom: “Why can’t you? I’ll be here. I’m just sitting here. If you need money, I will send you some in a plain envelope…Do you need money?”

Me: “No, I don’t have money, Mom.”

Mom: “Okay, then, when you pick me up, I’ll [send] you some money.”

In this instance, it wasn’t too difficult for me to just follow my mother’s lead in her friendly and cheerful conversation. Please let me know what you think and what your unique communication challenges are with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

You and I sure need to talk, fellow caregiver!

Posted in Alzheimer’s, Caregiving, Dementia | 2 Comments »
Tags: , ,

2 Comments to “Creative communication and Alzheimer’s”

  1. Assisted Living Charlotte NC

    Mothers always know how we feel even by far they reach out to us. There should be no hesitation in communicating with them just enjoy and show your love.

  2. Maggy Young

    Yes it’s “Go with the flow” which says it all. The key is not always worrying about the accuracy of the conversation. The important thing is that it takes place & everyone is happy.

Leave a Reply