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3 Ways to Improve Communication with Alzheimer’s Disease Patients

#1 Repeated Questions? Write Down the Answer

Patients suffering from dementia can’t store the memory of an answer to a question, according to speech-pathology professor Michelle S. Bourgeois of Ohio State University.

Dr. Bourgeois recommends saying the answer and also writing it down on a notepad and giving it to your loved one. Then, when asked the question again, say

“The answer is on that notepad.” In Dr. Bourgeois’ experience, patients usually stop asking that question. This simple technique also works when loved ones get defiant.

#2 Defiant? Try Positive Reinforcement in Writing

In a recent article in Parade Magazine, Dr. Bourgeois recounted how one woman suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease refused to shower. Her nursing aide made a card that said “Showers make me feel fresh and clean.” The aide gave it to her when it was time to shower. Shower time was no longer a struggle. Positive reinforcement in writing can help with dozens of daily situations that arise when caring for a patient with dementia.

#3 Forgetting Loved Ones? Try Memory Flashcards

Dr. Bourgeois also recommends making memory flashcards as simple reminders of people or things important to your loved one. For example, take a picture of your granddaughter and underneath the photo write “Granddaughter Sarah.” You can do this with family pets, friends, even places you frequently travel.

*Source: Wicker, Christine. “Unlocking the Silent Prison” Parade Magazine, November 21, 2010.