We need to talk about Alzheimer’s.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in ten Americans have had a family member with Alzheimer’s.

The disease damages pathways between the brain’s nerve cells, which may cause memory failure, personality changes and difficulty with daily activities. As it progresses, those with Alzheimer’s will require more assistance with daily living. A person’s ability to communicate may also be affected.

Ongoing communication with your loved one is important, no matter how difficult it may become. While someone with Alzheimer’s or a related form of dementia may not seem engaged in every conversation, he or she still requires your love and support.

Here are some tips for communicating with an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

  • DO be patient and reassuring. Having to correct and repeat information often can become frustrating, but try to practice 100% forgiveness and don’t take things personally.
  • DON’T try to reason, argue or confront. Try going with the flow instead. You can redirect the person to a new subject or activity more easily by agreeing than you can by arguing.
  • DO be aware of nonverbal communication. Your facial expressions, tone of voice, feelings and attitude will have a significant impact on your conversation. Use a gentle, lower pitch.
  • DON’T ignore your friend or family member. Talk directly to him or her, even if they don’t seem engaged in the conversation. Avoid talking about them as if they weren’t there. Everyone deserves respect.
  • DO use visual cues. Point or touch an item you want the individual to use, or demonstrate a task. Written notes could also be helpful.
  • DON’T use complicated sentences or questions. Drawn-out requests can be overwhelming. If possible, provide the solution rather than the question. For example: “Here is some milk” instead of “Are you thirsty?”

Stay involved! Join a support group, or follow @AlzChat on Twitter for weekly discussions about the care and challenges of living with Alzheimer’s.

About 80% of our residents have been diagnosed with some form of Alzheimer’s or dementia. The team at Chestnut Ridge is committed to working with families to provide the best possible care.

Your loved one is not alone. And neither are you.

Do Not Ask Me to Remember

Do not ask me to remember,

Don’t try to make me understand,

Let me rest and know you’re with me,

Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.

I’m confused beyond your concept,

I am sad and sick and lost.

All I know is that I need you

To be with me at all cost.

Do not lose your patience with me,

Do not scold or curse or cry.

I can’t help the way I’m acting,

Can’t be different though I try.

Just remember that I need you,

That the best of me is gone,

Please don’t fail to stand beside me,

Love me ’til my life is done.

– Owen Darnell