For many carers, and as I have found myself with family, what can be one of the most frustrating challenges is when you need or try to have meaningful conversation with someone who has dementia.
Alzheimer’s is a serious neurological disease that put simply, steals the person of their character and identity. Their memories become distorted and their everyday skills become affected.
Everyday speech and dialogue is something that I can take for granted. However, when such things are affected by Alzheimer’s, these emotional connections you have with others can suffer.
Our language and speech requires very complex neurological skills. What we say has to be accurately processed by our brain and then our vocal response delivered to complete the ongoing dialogue.
However, anyone who has Alzheimer’s deteriorates neurologically, and so their language and power of speech worsens, into eventual mumbling words. I know this, as I have seen it.
This is devastating for any family when their loved one cannot even manage to say “Hello” to them. Or cannot answer a simple question, or worse still share their family memories.
Therefore, having experienced this brought new doors for me to try and open. And from this, I discovered what worked and what didn’t.
Touch: Touching someone with a shoulder squeeze, cupping another’s hands, a hug, etc. instantly launches a cascade of wonderful endorphins and pleasure.
When verbal conversation is no longer viable, communicate your feelings through gentle touching hands along with words. The person with Dementia who cannot “talk” so easily anymore may still say “Hi, I love you” or “Thank you” with a gentle touch or squeeze of the hand.
Taste: As far as I know, there are 5 distinct tastes: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter and Savoury.
Although our own personal tastes can sometimes vary, I have read that most Alzheimer’s sufferers like foods that taste sweet, this maybe because a sweet taste lasts longest on our palate.
Smell: I easily associate “smells” with and from my childhood experiences, such as Candy Floss at Fayres and Carnivals. So at the same time, certain smells from foods or flowers maybe relevant to someone else who has that