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Do you remember your elementary teacher reading aloud to the class?  She would hold a beautiful picture book with her thumb and pinky-finger, and point to the words with the other hand.  If you were like me, you were mesmerized by the beautiful sights and sounds.  Sights and sounds…. Two things which go together quite nicely.

One of the most important aspects of being a good caregiver is understanding the disease that is causing the damage to an individual.  In the case of Alzheimer’s, and many other dementia causing diseases, the brain becomes diseased.  It becomes difficult to communicate with a loved one in the advanced stages of dementia.  Having tips and ideas to increase the probability of success is most important.

Let’s bring that need for success in communication together with the sights and sounds of picture books.  When we were children, the ability to see the picture and hear the story came together to make an impression on our young healthy brain.  As we aged, the same concept remained true.  Even today, if we see an event on television, and we hear the reporter tell the story, we are more likely to retain the information.  If dementia becomes part of the life-story, it is even more important to use visual cues along with verbal cues to get a message across.

“Momma, you have a doctor’s appointment at two o’clock today”, she says while holding two fingers in front of Momma.  It would also be helpful to say, “We are going to get in the car (use hands to demonstrate driving) and go to the doctor (demonstrate the doctor using a stethoscope) today to get your heart checked (while tapping the chest).  We will go at two (hold two fingers up) o’clock today.”  While there is no guarantee Momma will remember this information, odds have just increased dramatically that she will.

Pictures and words go together nicely.  Employ them when communicating with anyone – especially someone with dementia.  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

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Comment by Carol Howell on October 18, 2012 at 3:05pm

My pleasure, Ann!  Thanks for reading.  

Comment by Ann Musico on October 18, 2012 at 2:11pm

What a practical tip, Carol.  Unless we understand the nature of this disease, we don't know how best to care for and communicate with our loved ones.  Thank you for making these tips so clear and easy to understand by explaining the need.

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