When your loved one sounds as though they're speaking nonsense, you can help.​​​

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we noted the importance of understanding the ways in which sensory dysfunctions affect persons with Alzheimer's/dementia, particularly their ability to manage activities of daily living: brushing their teeth, bathing, dressing, feeding, and toileting. Certain sensations, such as water striking the skin during a shower, may be perceived as painful. The simple act of walking down a hallway can cause a loved one to react fearfully when that person experiences tunnel vision.

I recall early in my mother's Alzheimer's journey, that she tried to participate in a conversation about the weather by describing a dress she'd bought. Her companions laughed and she never forgot her mistake. After a few more equally embarrassing incidents, she withdraw from the social contacts she once enjoyed. She didn't want to chance making a fool of herself again. 

Who could blame her? How I wished I'd understood that she didn't hear every fourth word that was spoken. No wonder she had difficulty following the conversation. In this, the last of a series based on a presentation by Occupational Therapist, Teepa Snow during the Maine Alzheimer's Association's 2014 Educational Conference, Teepa touches upon issues of hearing and ways in which to enhance communication and the quality of our relationships with our loved ones:

  • Early in the progression of dementia, the person loses every 4th word, thereby missing twenty-five percent of the conversation. Because the person misunderstands the content of what's being said, she responds by saying something tangential, which makes her sound as though she's not paying attention.

    • To help: Speak slowly. Use visual and auditory cues while you're speaking. 

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Thanksgiving, 2014:
This year, we give thanks to those like Dan Cohen, who have reconnected caregivers everywhere with the hope of seeing their loved ones delight in music remembered and shared. Through Dan's determination and Teepa's instruction on the oft-mysterious functioning of our brains, we become more adept at improving the lives of those with dementia.  An odd nod to the condition of Alzheimer's for uniting so many of us who, were it not for this challenge, would have never put our heads and hearts into this important work. And finally, our thanks to you, the caregivers who inspire us with your courage and devotion. We are fortunate to have you as our readers. 



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Had We Only Known: 
Basic Facts and Helpful Procedures
Part 3 of a 3:
Hearing and Communication 


Join us as Torrey Harrision, LCSW, discusses "Caring for the Caregiver."

7:00-8:00, Wednesday, December 3, 2014. 
Sacred Heart Parish Center,
326 Main St, Yarmouth, Maine

FMI: ezine@catherinegentile.com


Constructive Approaches to Managing Memory Issues

Stay Healthy During the Winter Months

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Being a caregiver is a tough job, one we can do, especially when we have the right support. 

As Christopher Robin tells Pooh: 

           "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

So are we. 

With kind regards,  
Catherine Gentile, editor

Together With Alzheimer's Ezine​
Email: ezine@catherinegentile.com
Website: http://www.catherinegentile.com

You may have heard about Dan Cohen, a Canadian social worker who refused to believe that it is impossible to connect with persons with advanced dementia. Between his love of music and his experience incorporating technology into treatment for those with dementia, Dan found himself combining iPods with specific musical selections tailored to the tastes of the listener. 

The results were startling. The documentary about his work, Alive Inside: The Story of Music and Memory, has been showing throughout the country. After viewing Alive Inside, memory care facilities have started providing their residents with iPods programmed with tunes they enjoyed when they were younger. Dan Cohen and his staff offer detailed information on how to implement this exciting program on their Music and Memory website: www.musicandmemory.org.

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Music Brings Hope to Persons with Memory

How to Support Your Loved One During the Holidays

Holidays present special joys and challenges, particularly when a family member has Alzheimer’s or another dementia. How does the caregiver strike a balance between honoring family traditions and orchestrating a get-together that is meaningful and pleasant? The answer is both challenging and doable: by reorganizing and recreating the ways in which they celebrate together.  Let’s look at what other caregivers have done to enjoy and survive the holidays:

First, don’t be afraid to trim your expectations. Remove those that aren’t entirely necessary. If your goal is for the family to gather for a meal, ask someone else to organize a menu and assign everyone a dish. Or, go for a potluck. If the meal is being held at your home, keep your preparation activities to the bare minimum, e.g., setting the table, perhaps even using paper plates.

As with all things Alzheimer’s, we can’t expect our loved ones to adapt; we are the ones who must be flexible. So, if you usually have twenty people for Thanksgiving dinner, reduce it by half so your loved one won’t be overwhelmed by the commotion. Ask a trusted family member to email those who will be left out, explaining your rationale.

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The Caregiver's Journey:
Tools, Tips, and Provisions 

A guide to assist caregivers, from novice to seasoned, in thoughtful, person-centered planning. 

an ebook 
by Catherine Gentile

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