Puzzles are an excellent way to stimulate your brain. When putting together a puzzle, your brain produces a chemical known as dopamine that is chiefly responsible for learning and memory. If you are caring for an elder, pull out your puzzles and initiate some brain stimulating family time.
At Vista Gardens, with Dr. Jacqueline DuPont, we are continuously finding fun, well-researched ways to keep our residents engaged with memory-benefiting activities.
BEFORE TALKING WITH SOMEONE WITH DEMENTIA OR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE:
1.Know the older adult first! (know their likes, dislikes and names – the name they like to be called).
2.If you are a caregiver, read their chart or history. Are they a morning person or are they up at night? Know as much about them as you possibly can.
3.Think about how you are presenting yourself
4.Try a CALM, gentle, matter of fact approach
5.Use a non-demanding approach – try humor, cheerfulness
6.Try using a gentle touch, from the front (if appropriate) to communicate your message
Begin the conversation socially (i.e., “Hi, my name is Michelle”). Use your name often and wear a nametag, if possible.
WHILE TALKING WITH SOMEONE WITH DEMENTIA OR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
1.Approach from the front and talk to the person in a place with no distractions. It may sound obvious, but make sure hearing aids are turned on and have batteries.
2.Begin by identifying yourself and addressing the person by the “best” name
3.Look directly at the person and make sure you have his/her attention
4.Make sure you are at eye level with the person (not looking down). Get at their level.
5.Speak slowly and say words clearly and in a soft low pitch voice – gentle tone
6.Ask only one thing at a time and do not rush
7.Use short, simple sentences and questions (e.g., “are you cold?”)
8.Use very concrete terms and familiar words
9.Use actual names, instead of he and she, when referring to others
10.Talk in a warm, easy-going, pleasant way
11.Talk in a quiet, calm voice.
12.Speak in positive terms
13.Ignore harmless hallucinations or delusions
14.Treat the person with RESPECT
WHEN YOU ARE HAVING TROUBLE BEING UNDERSTOOD
1.Be patient; allow enough time
2.Demonstrate visually what you are saying by pointing, touching or drawing
3.Use short simple terms
4.Be repetitive and consistent (if you need to repeat 3 times)
5.Try a less difficult, more simple way to say it
6.Try a hug and a change of subject
7.Do not rush the person. Allow plenty of time for a response. If there is none, repeat the question, exactly as it was phrased the first time. If there still is no answer, reword the phrase.
8.If possible, change who is asking the question or making the request. Someone else may have more success.
WHEN YOU ARE HAVING TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING
1.Listen actively and carefully to what the person is trying to say
2.Try to focus on a word or phrase that makes sense
3.Respond to the emotional tone of the statement
4.Experiment with supplying words
5.Encourage the person to point or gesture
6.Stay calm and be patient
7.Ask family members about possible meanings for words, names, phrases
8.Listen to their voice and gestures which may give clues to understanding
THINGS NOT TO DO
1.Don’t argue and don’t give orders to the person.
2.Don’t tell the person what he/she can’t do.
3.Don’t “talk down” or appear superior to the person.
4.Don’t treat them like a child.
5.Don’t ask questions that require the person to remember facts.
6.Don’t talk about people with the disease in front of them.
7.Don’t use sarcasm or inappropriate humor. Alzheimer’s patients misinterpret humor.
8.Don’t orient the person to person, place and time – validate their feelings and statements.
WHEN VERBAL COMMUNICATION JUST DOESN’T WORK
1.Try distracting the person.
2.Ignore angry or agitated statements if you can’t think of a positive response.
3.Try other forms of communicating (songs, massage, favorite foods, walking, etc.)
4.Give the person something to do. Try activities, a walk, giving them food or something to hold.
6.Again, try someone else. The Alzheimer or Dementia patient may just not like what you are wearing that day.
7.Try again later.
COPING WITH CHALLENGING BEHAVIORS
1.Build a positive, trusting relationship. You are familiar, you are safe.
2.Use effective verbal and nonverbal communication techniques.
3.Encourage independence in the person. Try to help the resident build a sense of control and competence over his/her life.
4.Avoid arguing, yes/no battles, rational or logical explanations, and debates.
5.Tell “therapeutic fibs” or “bent facts” to save a patient grief and reduce problem behaviors (i.e., validation therapy). Validate their hallucinations or delusions.
6.Redirect or divert the person’s attention to a positive topic, activity, or object.
7.When a behavior requires intervention, act quickly with positive techniques and activities.
For six months our wonderful Vista Gardens Families and Residents raised toiletries and supplies for the “poorest of poor”. Many Bags of supplies were donated by the very generous who gave them.
Then for hours our residents packaged them last week…
“It felt so good to help others”, said Mr. Pick!
Others commented And on how fortunate they felt their lives were and how others really needed their help.
One resident named Patricia also commented on the fact that giving back had been a big part of her life and she is happy to “do it
“You could tell that after packaging all the supplies for the homeless they all felt a sense of accomplishment”, said Mara Carney the activity director.
A BIG thank you to all the Vista Gardens families, visitors, employees and residents who donated so many needed goods!
Vista Gardens Memory Care has won the Excellence Award presented by Senior Advisor for receiving consistently high ratings from residents and their families.
Winners of the Excellence Award are located all over the country and represent the top tier of independent living, assisted living, and Alzheimer’s care communities. This exclusive designation places the winners in the top one percent of senior living communities nationwide, according to consumers.
Evelyn Delgado, Executive Director of Vista Gardens, thanked SeniorAdvisor and the parent company, “A Place For Mom” for honoring her memory care community as she received her award certificate. A number of special guests attended this event, including Lynn Muldowney of the Alzheimer’s Association, and owners Don Crowell and Joe Balbas.
“SeniorAdvisor.com was launched with the goal of providing a useful resource for consumers looking for first-hand feedback on senior care communities,” said Eric Seifort, President, SeniorAdvisor.com.” We wanted to put a spotlight on those companies who have invested efforts to deliver excellent customer service to potential and existing customers, as evident from their high ratings. The recipients of the first Senior Advisor.com Excellence Awards set a high bar of quality for other senior care providers to follow.