Did you know that November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month? This campaign is designed to raise public awareness of this debilitating disease which is the most common form of dementia and is estimated to affect 1 in 85 people worldwide by the year 2050. In addition to raising awareness about the disease itself, this campaign is also aimed at recognizing caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s. In support of this campaign, Speech Associates of New York is dedicating this week’s blog to communication strategies that caregivers can use to maximize communication with a loved one with dementia.
- In the early stages of the disease, you may not realize how much difficulty your loved one is having communicating. To make sure they can participate in conversation as fully as possible and absorb important information, take care to speak at a relaxed, even pace, pause between thoughts, and repeat important points more than once during a conversation. Also be sure to pause and give the other person plenty of time to formulate a response.
- As the disease progresses, answering questions can become difficult. When you want to ask your loved one something, simplify the question by formulating it as a yes/no question or giving choices. For example, instead of asking, “What do you want to do today?” ask, “Would you like to go for a walk or watch television?” In later stages of the disease, the person may benefit from having choices presented visually instead of verbally.
- In the later stages of the disease when communication is severely impaired, there are still ways to connect with your loved one. Senses remain connected to memory long after speech and language are gone. Use sight, smell, or sound to help recall past experiences. For example, you may want to play some favorite music from the person’s young adulthood, use a favorite perfume, or make their favorite childhood dish for dinner.
Are you a caregiver for someone with dementia? What are some of your communication challenges and strategies for overcoming them? Share your story in the comments section below!
For information on our New York based Speech-Language Pathology services, please call Speech Associates of New York today at (212) 308-7725 or visit our website at http://www.speechassociatesofny.com and find out how our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help!
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