There is nothing more stressful or depressing than trying to carry on a normal conversation with a person with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Since my wife’s diagnosis last December, I have tried with every fiber of my being to have patience and respect for her when we are engaged in a conversation. It isn’t always easy as the conversation can quickly become one sided and confusing. There are times when it flows smoothly only to have her completely forget that we even had a conversation and what it was about and other times when she is completely confused and begins to get verbally aggressive. I would be lying to you if I told you that lately I wasn’t feeling lonely. That’s a pretty damn tough situation to be in when your only in your early fifties and have so much you want to talk about and do, but can’t. As with any illness or disease, there are coping skills and treatments that can help.
According to http://www.dementiacarecentral.com Difficulties with speech are often the first noticeable symptoms in people with dementia. At first, they may carry on normal conversations but simply forget a word. Or, they may have difficulty resuming the conversation after an interruption. There are many times when my wife struggles to find the word or words she wants to say, but just can’t recall them. If I know the word(s) she’s having difficulty with, I usually joke with her and say it for her. Her response can be witty as she snaps her fingers and yells; “that’s it!” Other times it can be aggravating and tense especially when she can’t understand what I am saying to her. For example; She accused me of having her cell phone and that the one in her hand was mine. I tried to convince her that we each had the correct phones, but she wouldn’t believe it. We each have different numbers so I said to her; “Watch, I’ll call your phone and you will see that the one you are holding is yours.” Sure enough, the one in her hand began to ring and she looked at me and said; “That doesn’t prove anything.” Ten minutes later she had forgotten about the whole thing.
Alzheimer’s Conversation Tips
I do try and keep my wife engaged in conversation as I know it is an important factor in slowing the disease down. Asking open ended and personal questions is a way of engaging a person with Alzheimer’s disease in conversation and http://www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com says to prompt the person with these conversation starters;
- What are some of the most valuable things you learned from your parents?
- What accomplishments in your life are you most proud of?
- What are some of the things you are most grateful for?
- What was the happiest moment of your life?
Above all else, be patient and listen to what they are saying. I also turn the oldies (70’s 80’s and 90’s) radio station on and together we sing the songs we grew up with. Did you know that music and the words to music are stored in a different part of the brain than conversational words? That is why it is easy to recall the lyrics to songs you heard thirty years ago.
Yes, I am young and yes, I do get lonely sometimes, but luckily for both my wife and I we have an amazing family that supports and loves us unconditionally.