This is part of an ongoing series of guest blogs written by Jo Huey, the Alzheimer’s Advocate®, founder of the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Institute.
In our last post, we explored the 1st Absolute of communicating with someone who has Alzheimer’s: Never argue, instead agree.
Today, we’ll explore the Second Absolute.
#2: Never reason, instead divert.
As a caregiver, it’s important to remember the disease progressively attacks different parts of the brain that control:
- Short-term memories (i.e., difficulty remembering things from a few hours or days ago)
- Language (i.e., difficulty finding the right word)
- Logical thought (i.e., problem-solving, grasping concepts, making plans)
What you and I consider “mindless” routine tasks (e.g., eating, bathing, dressing), may be difficult concepts to grasp for someone with Alzheimer’s. They lack the ability to understand the significance of completing these daily tasks in a timely manner.
Trying to reason with them is a futile effort because the part of their brain that controls logical thinking has been hindered. It also seems to imply, “I am right, and you are wrong.”
A much better approach is to change the subject to an agreeable topic.
For example, if you’re trying to get the person to eat breakfast, say something like: “The sunrise was spectacular this morning! It was so relaxing to sit back and watch it while I enjoyed my morning coffee. Speaking of which, I think I’ll get some more. Would you like some coffee or something to eat?”
This is a great way to “guide” someone into eating breakfast, rather than demanding they do so. I’ll save the bathing for another absolute, but keep it in mind.
In our next post, we’ll explore the Third Absolute: Never shame, instead distract.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of H.H. Franchising Systems, Inc.