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Learning to Speak Alzheimer's: A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease

Learning to Speak Alzheimer's: A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease - Joanne Koenig Coste, Robert N. Butler, Robert Butler I read this earlier and it didn't stand out to me. Several people kept mentioning it to me, so I revisited it to see if I overlooked something. -- Make the physical environment work. Simplify the environment. Accommodate perceptual loss by eliminating distractions. -- Know that communication remains possible. Remember that the emotion behind failing words is far more important than the words themselves and needs to be validated. Although many losses occur with the disease, assume that the patient can still register feelings that matter. -- Focus only on remaining skills. Value what abilities remain. Help the patient compensate for any lost abilities without bringing them to his or her attention. -- Live in the patient's world. Never question, chastise, or try to reason with the patient. Join her in the current "place" or time, wherever that may be, and find joy with her there. -- Enrich the patient's life. Create moments for success; eliminate possible moments of failure, and praise frequently and with sincerity. Attempt to find humor wherever possible.Okay -- those are pretty good tenets to live with Alzheimer's by. I guess I overlooked that for a start. The 6 domains: communication, emotional, physical, social, sensory, functional. Physical: Painting a bathroom wall a deep or bright color can draw the patient's attention to the contrasting white toilet, for instance. Enhancing personal areas with memorabilia, eliminating clutter, illuminating task areas, and doing away with sources of shadows can also help. Functional: offer simple prompts like placing toothpaste on the toothbrush, laying out clothes, choosing the timing of activities carefully. Social: Constantly include patients in conversation and have friends in to visit one on one. Reminisce. Enjoy music. Engage with children or pets. Participate in religious events. Help the patient remain oriented and engaged, maximizing her or his strengths while minimizing isolation. Communication: Tone of voice, gestures and facial expressions can aid with failing words. Use pictures where appropriate. Help the patient find the word. Sensory. Use smell, aromatherapy if it helps. Hearing -- the patient will have trouble separating one sound from another. Minimize distractions and overstimulation. The patient may be unable to differentiate shadows and lights and may find them threatening. The taste buds may change and the patient may need more herbs and spices to find food appealing. Perceptions become more problematic as the disease progresses. Tips from others:Increase your support circle by reconnecting with old acquaintances and family members. Long-term memory remains intact for a long time; old buddies can reinforce these memories and share tales of days gone by. Take advantage of every opportunity to feel uplifted. Take time to smell the flowers. Register with Alzheimer's Safe Return program. More on the physical environment. Lighting. Making lighting like daylight. Avoid too many lamps; they cause shadows. Use bulbs that are "day glow", "vita lite", "pink light". Use reflector tape to mark important paths, such as the bedroom to the bathroom. Replace floor lamps with lights that attach to the walls. Make the house as clutter-free as possible. Color schemes. Unique colors for different rooms or areas help. Flat paint rather than high-gloss. Wall colors should contrast with the furniture. Bright colors can help failing perception of depth and contrast. Paint the wall behind the toilet a darker, contrasting color so it's easy to spot from the bathroom doorway. If sofas and chairs blend in with the background, use colorful throws or afghans to draw attention to where the patient should sit. Use color to camouflage areas to avoid. Place a black mat inside the front door to suggest a dark chasm that cannot be crossed. Stick to a palette of solid, strong, simple colors. The lighter shades blend together for patients. Checks, stripes and polka dots create visual confusion and should be avoided. Simple geometric or repeat designs, plaids and florals are more welcoming. Flooring. At some point, a patient's gait will become shuffling and perhaps scissorlike. Wall-to-wall, light colored carpeting is best. Eliminate scatter rugs. Eliminate shadows and glare on flooring. Hardwood floors are also good. Interior pathways. Keep them clear and simple. Pictures and arrows can be used. Furniture. Overstuffed chairs are problematic. Gliders can be good. Keep areas clutter free and simplified. When you first become aware that a patient is no longer using a mirror to inspect his image, replace it with a different wall decoration. Same with hand-held mirrors or mirrors that rest on surfaces. The reflections can be terrifying. A fish tank can be a good addition though. Establish a feeding schedule so the fish are not overfed. Set a comfortable chair in front of the tank. Safety devices. Install child-proof locks on closets that shouldn't be opened. Gates on stairs that shouldn't be used. Home areas. Make cozy spaces that are good for conversation. Large spaces or large tables can make the patient uncomfortable. Allow comfortable places for solitude as well. Noise and sound. If you have an area where noise is particularly bothersome, try installing some temporary acoustical ceiling tiles on the walls. Place sound-diffusing contact paper on windows if street sounds are an annoyance. Draw the drapes and turn on the lights during the day if it's quieter that way. Trouble with noise becomes less bothersome as the patient progresses further into the disease. Illuminate stairs fully. Timer to turn on lights automatically at given times. Paint the stairs to contrast with the walls. Communication. Approach the person in a calm, gentle way, always from the front, to foster trust. Set the stage for discourse with a tone that reflects respect. Speak slowly, in a low tone, using simple sentences rather than complicated language patterns. Be patient; the person with progressive dementia takes extra time to process information. Focus on remaining skills.Bathing. It may become unfamiliar. He may not remember the expectations of bath time. Removing clothing can increase feelings of loss of control. The sound of running water may induce fear. Clear water may be hard to see. You might add green or blue coloring agent to make the water visible. Don't splash. Shampooing can be stressful. Do minimally; use dry shampoo. Don't use unfamiliar scented soaps. Dressing. Dress for ease. Comfort. Recognizability -- buy the same outfit again and again if it is well loved. Use textured clothing when you can, such as velvet and silks.Clothes that are one size larger. Pull on over the head rather than buttons and zippers Elastic waist, loose-fitting pants.Ankle-high socks, all the same color.Slip-on, velcro shoes. Additional chapters I'm not making notes on at this time: on behavioral changes, life enrichment. Caring for the care partner. Receiving home care. Receiving care outside of a family home. Inspiration. Appendix: good finger foods, etc. Further resources: organizations, books, videos, music and old-time radio, products. Photocopied books, videos and products for reference.