Let’s say the person you are approaching is in the middle stage of Alzheimer’s. S/He has lost the ability to make sense of the world as easily as before the disease took over.
When approaching, make sure you learn what’s on his/her mind.
You can’t just bounce into the room, greet him/her jovially and expect the “Sweetie-am-I-glad-to see-you” gleam in his/her eye!
You’re more likely to get the “Who-the-hell-are-you?” glare if s/he looks at you at all.
What can you do to start off on the right foot while marching to same beat?
- Approach slowly.
Wait for the person to become aware of your presence.
- Make sure your eyes meet.
You want the person to see you.
- Use the person’s name then introduce yourself and state your relationship (wife, husband, son, daughter, sister, brother, friend).
Sometimes, the person may act surprised and exclaim, “I know who you are, you’re my [relationship stated correctly]!”
- Ask a simple question, initially.
WAIT for a response. Remain patient. Rephrase initial question differently if you don’t receive a response or ask another question.
- From The Caregiver’s Voice Caregiver of the Month of December, Barbara Gaughen-Muller: SMILE
Nothing lifts the heart so easily as a smile. And it’s free!
The late comedian and pianist, Victor Borge, was credited with saying (paraphrased): The shortest distance between two people is a smile.
We never know the world our loved ones are living in…
One day, about a year after my father had been living in the nursing home, I arrived to see him irritated.
Hi Mardig! We used his first name, Martin, in Armenian. How are you? He looked at me strangely, so I introduced myself. “I’m Brenda, your daughter.”
He then looked at me sternly. “You’re LATE!”
For what? I had NO IDEA!
“Are you with me or not?” he demanded.
Trying to be agreeable, I retorted, “I’m with you!” What could he be talking about?
“Well c’mon then. Let’s go!”
“Uh, okay…You lead.”
Would you believe–No, you wouldn’t; how could you?–he wanted me to join him and his English Countrymen to fight the war?
And here’s the kicker: He’s Armenian! He’s never been to England!
In any case, I accompanied him right through the secure doors to the lobby where we waited for the train to take us to England. We would be waiting a LONG TIME! We’re in California!
When visiting a person with Alzheimer’s, be careful to connect first through eye-contact then learn where the person is in his/her mind so you march to the beat of the same drummer.