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Old 11-02-2011, 06:12 PM
 
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I have no experience with this. How do you hold a conversation with someone that has trouble remembering what they said just five minutes ago? I don't want to frustrate or confuse them but I just don't know how to talk about the past when they are forgetting most of it and their day to day life is very dismal. Please give me constructive ways to communicate.
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:27 PM
 
Location: zone 5
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I don't know how far along this person is, but yes it is a hard thing to do. They are already confused, and very possibly frustrated. I don't think anything you do or say will affect that one way or the other. If it's a family member or anyone that might enjoy looking looking at old photos you may have, that's a nice pastime, and a good way to keep the conversation going. Follow their lead if they want to talk about anything, otherwise just try to make conversation the best you can, talking over any of their or your experiences that come to mind. Be prepared to answer the same questions over and over, make responses to statements you don't quite get the jist of. If they've got anxiety about their condition, they may need reassurance about imaginary problems, like my Aunt who finally went into a home and worried endlessly about things like not having money to pay for her meals in the dining room. (Unfortunately telling her it was already taken care of and not a problem, didn't sink in, no matter how many times we went over it.) If it sounds depressing, well it certainly can be, but there will be some nice moments in there too, and even if the person doesn't remember what was said, they will enjoy having some company for awhile. Just your being there will make them feel cared for.
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:50 PM
 
Location: Went around the corner & now I'm lost!!!!
1,550 posts, read 2,961,764 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subject2change View Post
I don't know how far along this person is, but yes it is a hard thing to do. They are already confused, and very possibly frustrated. I don't think anything you do or say will affect that one way or the other. If it's a family member or anyone that might enjoy looking looking at old photos you may have, that's a nice pastime, and a good way to keep the conversation going. Follow their lead if they want to talk about anything, otherwise just try to make conversation the best you can, talking over any of their or your experiences that come to mind. Be prepared to answer the same questions over and over, make responses to statements you don't quite get the jist of. If they've got anxiety about their condition, they may need reassurance about imaginary problems, like my Aunt who finally went into a home and worried endlessly about things like not having money to pay for her meals in the dining room. (Unfortunately telling her it was already taken care of and not a problem, didn't sink in, no matter how many times we went over it.) If it sounds depressing, well it certainly can be, but there will be some nice moments in there too, and even if the person doesn't remember what was said, they will enjoy having some company for awhile. Just your being there will make them feel cared for.
I agree. I work with them frequently and there is nothing you can do. But I remember my Mom told me in my teeenage years "You're once a man and twice a child." Now I see what she meant. You must deal with it accordingly.
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:17 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
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I'm still in the learning stages myself but my mother is going down pretty rapidly with AD and it's tough.

The two main things I have learned are: 1. Recent events go out as quickly as they came in, but events well in the past are generally remembered. You can always talk about the past with them and ask them about their childhood. Do not ask them questions like "Why did you just do that?" or "I just told you that--can't you remember?" Think how upsetting that would be to you. Speak slowly and give them a chance to catch up but don't be condescending--they can certainly feel that.

2. If they tell you something really irrational, don't argue with them, even if they accuse your favorite brother of stealing. Just say that you'll go have a talk with that person. If they mistake you for a long lost sibling or parent, go with the flow and become that person. It's really hard at first to learn to lie, b/c it's always the person who taught you not to lie that you're now lying to! I've found that my mother goes in and out of rationality, and when she's rational I tell the truth, but when she's confused, I lie like a dog. It's not for your own benefit that you're doing this, but for the peace of mind of your loved one and just remember that stress makes everything worse and the alzheimer's progress that much faster. Here's a link to a website that I use quite frequently: How to Communicate with Alzheimer's Patients | Alzheimer's Patients It has lots of great tips for just the sort of thing that you're asking here and they'll email you a newsletter.
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:45 AM
 
Location: In a house
13,258 posts, read 34,662,112 times
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When my grandmother was in her last couple of days, I was visiting her (she lived in another state). She didn't have alzheimer's or even dementia, but she was 96 years old, and her organs were shutting down and her brain wasn't functioning right so she was very confused for most of the visit. A week before that her mind was pretty much as snappy and brilliant as I always remembered it was (just to emphasize that this wasn't an ongoing issue, it was an end of life shut-down process).

But I'll never forget walking into her bedroom to help her out of bed and change her pain-med patch, and she thought I was her nurse and that we were in the hospital. I was so sad about this, I didn't really know what to say. So I just nodded and got her out of bed and changed her patch for her, and walked out of the bedroom.

I came back a couple minutes later, pretending that I was seeing her for the first time that day, as myself, happy to see her after an absence. It was a total act, but it was for her benefit so she'd know family was there. It actually worked. She still thought the nurse who just left was trying to steal from her...but it was me, her grand-daughter AnonChick, who she was telling it to.

Thankfully she passed away the next day; living inside a decaying body and mind was making her miserable during her lucid moments; she was begging to die and it was heartbreaking for all of us to see her suffering. We all wanted to remember her as we knew her best; brilliant, sharp-witted, clever, independent, and though she wasn't physically fit, you'd learn the lesson if she ever had to scold you by pinching your arm (which she continued to do, well after her grandchildren were adults).

Remember what they used to be. See if you can reach *moments* of that part of them, by bringing up events that occurred back when they used to be their usual selves. Help them remember that no matter what they're experiencing now, they are the sum total of all they have experienced in their lives. Help them remember some of those experiences. You could even ask them if they can help you learn the family history. In other words, encourage them to remember something, and let them talk about it. You listen, they talk. Listen to their stories, no matter how odd or nonsensical they might sound to you. Guide them gently to the present when you need for them to "be here now" but let them revel in the past, because it will bring them comfort.
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Old 11-03-2011, 07:51 AM
 
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Thank you for confirming what I mostly have been doing. I was trying to see if she remembered really pleasant parts of her travels around the world, trying to be positive about how much she had seen in her life, especially since she barely goes anywhere anymore. It was upsetting to see how she forgot who some relatives were and some events of the past. I have to learn to toughen up and be more patient. So much harder over the phone. She is self consience about how she sounds and doesn't want to bore me. After last nights "conversation" if you can call it that, I just broke down realizing the person she was is no longer there. It's kind of like a death. I really have to toughen up for a visit I am planning in the next few months. I saw her in February this year but a lot has changed since then.
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Old 11-03-2011, 08:11 AM
 
Location: zone 5
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Phone conversations with Alzheimers patients are horrible. A disjointed conversation is much harder on the phone, at least to me. You may find an in-person visit is easier to take.
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:25 PM
 
575 posts, read 850,500 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subject2change View Post
Phone conversations with Alzheimers patients are horrible. A disjointed conversation is much harder on the phone, at least to me. You may find an in-person visit is easier to take.
I'm sure you're right. The problem is this is how I have to talk to her 99% of the time as we live many states apart. I hate talking to her on the phone. Each time is worse and I spend most of the time trying to fill in the gaps and keep her upbeat. From what I hear, in person she really doesn't say much unless spoken to directly. She tends to go of somewhere else listening to imaginary people.
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Old 11-03-2011, 03:25 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
9,457 posts, read 16,426,868 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnonChick View Post
Remember what they used to be. See if you can reach *moments* of that part of them, by bringing up events that occurred back when they used to be their usual selves. Help them remember that no matter what they're experiencing now, they are the sum total of all they have experienced in their lives. Help them remember some of those experiences. You could even ask them if they can help you learn the family history. In other words, encourage them to remember something, and let them talk about it. You listen, they talk. Listen to their stories, no matter how odd or nonsensical they might sound to you. Guide them gently to the present when you need for them to "be here now" but let them revel in the past, because it will bring them comfort.
That was brilliant anon, and so true. Only problem is that it isn't so much that her stories are odd as that I've heard them all 150,000 times before and always in the exact same words. Sometimes she will turn around and tell the same story 2-3 times in a row and each time I'm challenged to look as if it were all new and fresh to me. She used to get into family history and I'm hoping to take some scrapbook stuff over and help her make some albums--last time I was there I took a jigsaw puzzle but she couldn't do that anymore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbekity View Post
It's kind of like a death.
They call it
"The Long Death" for a reason. It certainly is that and finding their competency is a challenge but I work with sped kids so maybe it's a little easier for me. I used to think that alzheimer's wouldn't be as hard on the person with the condition because they wouldn't realize that they suffer from it, but I think otherwise now. I can see that mom is very depressed and your relative may be also, which makes it so much harder to communicate with her. Aricept was really hard on mom and made her almost suicidal so I took her off of it pretty quickly and have her on some supplements in hopes that they will slow down the progression some.
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Old 11-03-2011, 04:50 PM
 
575 posts, read 850,500 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stepka View Post
That was brilliant anon, and so true. Only problem is that it isn't so much that her stories are odd as that I've heard them all 150,000 times before and always in the exact same words. Sometimes she will turn around and tell the same story 2-3 times in a row and each time I'm challenged to look as if it were all new and fresh to me. She used to get into family history and I'm hoping to take some scrapbook stuff over and help her make some albums--last time I was there I took a jigsaw puzzle but she couldn't do that anymore.

They call it
"The Long Death" for a reason. It certainly is that and finding their competency is a challenge but I work with sped kids so maybe it's a little easier for me. I used to think that alzheimer's wouldn't be as hard on the person with the condition because they wouldn't realize that they suffer from it, but I think otherwise now. I can see that mom is very depressed and your relative may be also, which makes it so much harder to communicate with her. Aricept was really hard on mom and made her almost suicidal so I took her off of it pretty quickly and have her on some supplements in hopes that they will slow down the progression some.
Do you know when Dementia crosses the line into Alzheimer's? She recognises us but is forgetting past events and conversations along with having hallucinations. They have had here on many meds and have been adjusting them constantly as either the hallucinations are more frequent or she is always sleeping. Lately, the hallucinations are happening more in late afternoon.
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