Oct 14, 2014

3 Examples of How to Use the Hook In Alzheimer's and Dementia Communication

Ever try to convince, cajole, or explain to a person living with dementia why they should do what you want them to do and have them refuse? Why not use a hook?

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room


3 Examples of How to Use the Hook In Alzheimer's and Dementia Communication

The "hook". What is it?

In this case I am using the word hook to mean -

a communication strategy designed to catch a persons' attention.

The work hook is often used in branding, advertising, and marketing. How do you get a person to buy something, or buy into something?

The hook is one of the most important and most powerful communication tools in Alzheimer's and dementia care.
  • What is it that will get your loved one to cooperate? 
  • To do what you want them to do? 
  • To get up and start moving in the right direction?

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With Dotty, I had three primary hooks that I used to get her to cooperate and/or to do what needed to be done.

Example Number 1.

When I wanted Dotty to take a shower I would often use the words "let's go out" as the hook. Let's go out and either get something that Dotty liked (food) or do something that Dotty like to do (like go look at kids or pets).

I would go over to her, smile, and stick my hand out. I would wait for her to take my hand and start getting up. She would always ask, where are we going? Please note in this example - I did not beg, cajole, or demand that Dotty get up and take a shower.

Once we were in motion I would say, "you know what we should take a shower and go out". She would then ask, "where are we going?" I would then say something like - lets go get a coffee and some french fries at McDs. Or, something of that nature. She would almost always say okay.

Please notice we did not discuss the shower. I just led her to the mountain so to speak and she took her shower. Over time of course I had to assist her in this endeavor.

Read - Dementia Shower and the Use of Positive Thinking

Example Number 2.

During the day I might want Dotty to take a pee. For years we actually fought over this. Let me make this simple. If I did not get Dotty into the bathroom every 90 minutes to take a pee, she would pee all over herself - or worse.

Once I learned that this is what I needed to do every day as part of our routine I also learned a number of techniques that helped me accomplish this mission.

One of the most effective was the use of potato chips.

As in the previous example I did the following. I would go over to Dotty, smile, and stick my hand out. I would wait for her to take my hand and start getting up. She would always ask, where are we going? Please note in this example - I did not beg, cajole, or demand that Dotty get up and take a pee.

Once we were up and moving in the right direction I would say, "you know what, let's take a pee and then get some potato chips." "Do you want some potato chips I would ask?" Dotty would always respond positively to this suggestion.

While the goal of this endeavor was to get Dotty to take a pee, the hook and the catalyst were the potato chips. A nice smile, and open hand also helped.

Read - Urinary Incontinence -- How We Beat Alzheimers Incontinence -- The Solution

Example Number 3.

Dotty would often start getting in a bad mood around 9 o'clock at night. She would get this look on her face that told me it was going to get mean, negative and maybe even nasty.

In the first year or so, Dotty would actually get up around 9 o'clock at night and tell me she needed to clean our home. And then, she would start trying to clean. Needless to say, no matter what I did, or what I said, could deter. And most often we would end up in an argument that hurt both my heart and stomach.

I finally stumbled onto ice cream as the solution to this problem. At 9 or so, I would go over to Dotty, smile, and stick my hand out. I would wait for her to take my hand and start getting up. She would always ask, where are we going? Once we were moving in the right direction I would announce - "let's have some ice cream".

This was almost always met with great enthusiasm and the words, "oh boy, I haven't had any ice cream in a long time". A long time of course was the night before. We had this conversation or a similar version on most nights for about 7 years.

One thing I do know from talking to other caregivers - the majority of persons living with dementia love ice cream or sweets.

Does you loved one living with dementia crave ice cream?

Read - Alzheimer's Dementia and Ice Cream

The point I am trying to make here is simple and straight forward. Instead of trying convince, cajole, or explain to a person living with dementia why they should do what you want them to do - use a hook.

So instead of a whole bunch of words leading to frustration - simple guide them with the use of a smile, your hand, and whatever

Hook

works best for you.

Do any of you have an example of a "hook" that you are using that might be helpful and useful to others?

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Bob DeMarco  is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized expert, writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide.
Search more than 4,900 original articles for Answers to Your Questions About Alzheimer's and Dementia .

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