Jun 9, 2012

Alzheimer's Communication Tip -- "Touching"

One of the biggest challenges that Alzheimer's Caregivers face is how to communicate effectively. This challenge is particularly difficult when the person living with dementia expresses new communications that can best be described as mean and nasty.

Alzheimer's communication | Alzheimer's Reading Room

For me, I decided to address this challenge head on (no pun intended). I am fortunate because I studied communication in college and grad school.

Way back when, I decided to try this technique. Everyday, early in the morning, I bend down and say something nice and positive to my mother. While doing this, I put my forehead on her forehead. I try to get her to smile and say "yes". I call this the positive reinforcement part of the process. When I say something nice, and she responds yes --it anchors her.

When my mother says something mean and nasty to me like,
"get out, I can take care of myself".
I smile at her, put my head against her forehead, and say something positive like,
"I am here, and I am not going anywhere". While my forehead is still attached to hers I add something like, "we are both here to take care of each other, we need each other".

It works.

I can say this with confidence, the instances of my mother's meanness and nastiness has declined dramatically.

This technique has also helped me to learn that crazy Alzheimer's behaviors call for new and different tactics.

I believe the combination of touch, positive reinforcement, the calmness in my voice, and the smile do the trick. Besides, I mean every word I am saying.

There is one other effect that is very pleasing -- it makes me feel happy instead of angry.

Mission accomplished.

Don't be afraid to try it.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 5,000 articles. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room