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Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Association (ZARDA)
Extracted from the ZARDA June 2007Newsletter
explains some of the changes in communication that occurs as a result
of dementia and suggests ways carers can help. It also includes
some personal tips on communication written by a person with dementia.
changes in communication
with dementia is unique and the difficulties in communicating thoughts
and feelings are very individual.
There is a range of causes of dementia, each affecting the brain
in different ways.
you might notice include:
in finding the right word. They might say a related word instead
of one they cannot remember.
- They may
talk fluently, but not make sense.
- They may
not be able to grasp part of it.
and reading skills may also deteriorate.
- They may
loose the normal social coventions of conversation, and interrupt,
ignore another speaker, not respond when spoken to or become very
- They may
have difficulty expressing emotions appropriately.
It is important
to check that hearing and eye sight are not impaired. Glasses or
a hearing aid may help some people. Remember, communication is made
up of three parts:
- 55% is body
language which the message we give out by our facial expression,
posture and gestures.
- 38% is the
tone and pitch of our voice.
- 7% is the
words we use.
high light the importance of how carers present themselves to the
person with dementia. When caring for a person with dementia who
is having difficulty communicating, remember they may pick up on
negative body language such as sighs and raised eyebrows.
- People retain
their feelings and emotions even though they may not understand
what is being said, so it is important to always maintain their
dignity and self esteem.
- Be flexible
and always allow plenty of time for a reponse'
- Use touch
to keep the person's attention and to communicate feelings
of warmth and affection.
- Remain calm
and talk in a gentle, matter of fact way.
- Keep sentences
short and simple, focussing on one idea at a time.
- Always allow
plenty of time for what you have said to be understood.
- It can be
helpful to use orienting names when ever you can, such as "your
- You may need
to use some hand gestures and facial expressions to make your
or demonstrating can help.
and holding their hand may help to keep their attention and show
- Try to avoid
competing noises such as TV or radio.
- If the carer
stays still while talking, it will be easier for the person with
dementia to follow, and will show that the carer is prepared to
work at trying to understand them.
regular routines helps to minimise confusion and this can assist
- It is much
less confusing for the person with dementia if every one uses
the same approach. Repeating the message in exactly the same way
it is important if there are several carers. It may be useful
to discuss this with other relatives, friends and paid carers
to decide on the style that works best.
not to do
argue with the person . It will only make the situation worse.
order the person around.
tell the person what they can and can't do. Instead state
what they can do.
be condescending. A condescending tone of voice may be picked
up, even if the words are not understood.
ask a lot of direct questions that rely on a good memory
talk about people if they are not there.
from a person with dementia
was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at age 46, and now
lives with rediagnosis of frontotemporal dementia, made when she
was 49. She has shared a number of her insights about ways, family
and carers can help a person with dementia. Christine is also the
author of "Who will I be when I die"?, the first book
written by an Australian with dementia.
- Give us time
to speak, wait for us to search around that untidy heap on the
floor of the brain for the word we want to use. Try not to finish
our sentences. Just listen, and don't let us feel embarrassed
if we lose the thread of what we say.
rush us into something, because we can't think or speak
fast enough to let you know whether we agree. Try to give us time
to respond - to let you know whether we really want to do it.
- When you
want talk to us, think of some way to do this without questions,
which can alarm us make us feel uncomfortable. If we have forgotten
something special that happened recently, don't assume it
wasn't special for us too, just give us a gentle prompt-
we may just be momentarily blank.
try to hard though to help us remember something that just happened.
If it never registered, we are never going to be able to recall
- Avoid back
ground noise if you can. If the TV is on, mute it first.
- If children
are underfoot, remember we will get tired very easily and find
it very hard to concentrate on talking and listening as well!
May be one child at a time and without background noise would
- Maybe ear
plugs for a visit to shopping centers, or other noisy places
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