I scan the web often for caregiver tips that might help me help my husband…or help me help myself. These five points, about talking with an Alzheimer’s patient, are so important:
- Diminish distractions, banish background noises.
- Converse one-on-one because more people equals more confusion.
- Keep things simple, stick to short specific statements.
- Avoid arguments because no one will win.
- Just keep talking even if they can no longer respond.
Number four is my bugaboo. I always try to prove my point, establish that I’m right, or explain when no amount of explaining will make any difference. Peter and I both are argumentative, always have been. Even now when everything in our lives has turned upside down, that need be right still rises to the top like pasta on the boil.
I’ve long since learned that numbers one through three are the best ways to interact with him, but I figured that out while trying to understand more about his place on the autism spectrum (ASD). It has always been difficult for me to have any meaningful conversation with Peter, so to keep him focused, I try to pick the right time to have a conversation (1), and I know from experience that he zones out if several people are talking (2), plus I attempt to keep to one idea at a time (3). Peter has never been one to chat, so I’m used to talking without response (5).
It has always been way more difficult for me to deal with his ASD than with his dementia, even though he can’t help either condition. I battle with myself daily. He can’t help it, he-can’t-help-it, he-can’t-help-it.
There has been some research that has shown that people with ASD might be more predisposed to some form of dementia than the general population. I’ve wondered about that for years. If science proves there is a link, at least I could argue that I was right.
Header: Lake Louise, BC. Peter tries to lift a rock to bring home for Carolynn’s collection. (8/31/10)