Tuesday 9 August 2022

COMMUNICATING WITH LOVE - How to Relax and Chat With Someone with Memory Loss

If you care for someone with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia, you have probably seen this image on social media: 

I've posted it on my Facebook page, The Caregivers' Living Room and the most common reply is, "That's all very well, but those instructions are more easily said than done!" I have to agree. 

The good news is that I am writing to tell you about a book that arrived last week in my mailbox. It's called Communicating With Love: Creating Joyful Conversations with Memory and Elder Care Residents by E. Jane Wyatt. I had agreed to review the book and this afternoon, I read it in one reading (it's part of the author's Caregiver 10 Minute Guide Series). Easy to read and published in large print, this is a gem-filled treasure trove of wisdom. Here's what I learned: 

Communication with someone who has a significant memory deficit is much easier with careful planning. This may seem self-evident at first, but it's a lesson that I've had to learn and relearn over the 30-plus years of my own caregiving. Planning and communication are the details that make or break minutes, days and lifetimes of both caregiver and care receiver. The author shares wonderful examples of good planning and poor planning when visiting someone in their own home or in institutional care. 

Communicating when someone may not recognize you is a tricky business. The challenge of keeping a conversation going when someone has advanced dementia is enough to keep many people away. But again, the author gives us a gentle and easy-to-follow guide to introducing ourselves (how to enter the room and say hello), how to ask open ended questions with memory prompts, how to tell a "therapeutic fib" and other tricks she has learned through caring for her own mother and for a friend, both who suffered from severe memory loss. 

Communicating With Love is a companion book to its precursor, Visiting With Love. Both are very reasonably priced and available from all online booksellers. I highly recommend them.

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