Changes in Communication
As Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month continues, we want to discuss a very important topic- communication and Alzheimer’s. As the disease progresses, a person’s ability to communicate gradually diminishes. Changes in communication vary from person to person, but there are several common issues you can expect to see, including difficulty finding the right words and organizing words logically.
If someone you love is living with the disease, you know it can be challenging at times to communicate with them. The video above discusses the following ten tips for effectively communicating with your loved one.
- Never argue. Instead, listen.
- Never reason. Instead, divert.
- Never shame. Instead, distract.
- Never lecture. Instead, reassure.
- Never say ‘remember.’ Instead, reminisce.
- Never say ‘you can’t.’ Instead, remind them what they can do.
- Never say ‘I told you.’ Instead, just repeat.
- Never demand. Instead, just ask.
- Never condescend. Instead, encourage.
- Never force. Instead, reinforce.
Help Make Communication Easier
In addition to these tips, there are steps you can take to help make communication easier, including:
- Making eye contact and calling the person by name
- Being aware of things like your tone, how loud your voice is, how you look at them, and your body language
- Encouraging two-way conversation for as long as possible
- Using other methods, such as gently touching
- Distracting the person if communication creates problems
You also want to encourage the person to communicate with you. You can do this by doing things like holding their hand while you talk and showing a warm, loving manner. It is also important to be patient with angry outbursts and remember that it is just the illness talking.
If The Person is Aware of Memory Loss
Since the disease is being diagnosed at earlier stages, many people are aware of how it is impacting their memory. This can make communication even more sensitive because they may become frustrated when they are aware of the memory loss. Here are some tips for how to help someone who knows they have memory problems.
- Take time to listen. They may want to talk about the changes they are noticing
- Be as sensitive as you can and try to understand it is a struggle for them to communicate. Don’t correct them every time they forget something or say something odd
- Be patient when they have a difficult time finding the right words
- Find a balance between helping them find the right words and putting words in their mouth
- Be aware of nonverbal communication. As they lose the ability to speak clearly, they may rely on other ways to communicate their thoughts and feelings
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease and how it impacts communication, visit the links or reach out to the contacts below:
** NIA Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center
** Family Caregiver Alliance
** Alzheimer’s Association
A 2020 Gallup study observed Americans’ identification as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), by generation. The findings report that only 1.3% of the Traditionalist generation (born before 1946) and 2.0% of Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) identify as LGBT. This number increases dramatically over the generations, reaching 15.9% for Generation Z (born 1997-2002). The question is – does the higher percentage of younger Americans reflect a true shift in sexual orientation? Or is it simply reflecting a greater willingness to identify as LGBT?
Although those who make up the younger generations were born into a world where huge progress has been made in the gay rights movement, the older generations of the LGBTQ community experienced much less accepting times. It wasn’t until 1961 that Illinois became the first state in the United States to get rid of its sodomy law. It then took another ten years before 20 more states followed their lead. So even though Traditionalists and Baby Boomers were around to witness the progress that has been made, many may still have the mindset that society will not accept them for who they are.
It is this fear of discrimination that may play a part in their hesitation to seek the help and support they need as they near the end of their life. As a result, the LGBTQ community has been historically underserved by hospice. A 2011 study reported that 20% of LGBTQ seniors that were surveyed did not even reveal their sexual orientation to their primary physician for fear of discrimination. Beyond hospice services for the patient, their grieving partner often misses out on bereavement support as they care for their partner in their final months and days.
Resources for the Aging LGBTQ Community
Hospices are now working harder than ever to understand the specific needs of the aging LGBTQ community and to do all they can to accommodate those needs. The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is a resource center focused on improving the quality of services and support offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender older adults. Their website includes resources that cover a variety of topics, including end of life decisions. You can also use the interactive map to find resources in your area.
No one should miss out on the benefits of hospice care for any reason, especially for fear of discrimination.
Happy Pride Month!
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. This month-long celebration provides the opportunity to focus on raising awareness for the 50 million people worldwide living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. It causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you notice any of these ten signs and symptoms:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
Visit the website for the Alzheimer’s Association for more information on these signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for.
There are several ways to get involved in Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month! On June 20th, join the cause by celebrating ‘The Longest Day’ through a fundraising activity of your choice! There are a variety of ways to get involved, including virtually and in-person.
So put on your purple gear, share your story of why you go purple, and join the fight to #EndAlz!