Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Technique Tip #5

"Did you ask Margaret where she was going?"  These were the words from one of my clients as she was waking up from her nap.  Knowing in my mind that I had not been introduced to Margaret, I simply stated, "No, I was not able to ask her."  This response might seem a bit outlandish to some individuals on the outside, but I wanted to preserve my client's feelings.  I did not want to make her feel as though she was speaking out of the blue, making her feel uncomfortable. 

When a client or loved one speaks to you in terms that you do not understand, it might be best to use ambiguity of pronouns to substitute for your not knowing.  As I stated, I wanted to spare my client's dignity.  My experience was months ago, and now that I know my client a bit more, I might respond a differently if it were to happen again.  It all depends on what kind of bond you have with your loved one.  Some individuals may feel more comfortable using the non-verbal technique of ambiguity.  Whichever technique chosen, we want to make sure our Alzheimer's patients are at the center of our reasoning and responses from the heart. 

Has anyone had someone with Alzheimer's ask them a question that made no sense?  How did you respond?    

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Technique Tip #4

Charlie Barnet, Peggy Lee, Glen Miller, and Frank Sinatra are all 1940's musical artists.  Not only are these individuals from an awe-inspiring decade, these musicians are some of my client's favorites.  I found this out one Sunday afternoon when I decided to turn on the radio in my client's home.  I was cooking lunch and didn't want her to feel lonesome in the living room.  What I discovered was an astonishing and marvelous find.  She started to bop her feet up and down and hum along with the words on the radio, bringing her back to a place, in her words, "the good ol' days."  This non-verbal technique of music lead me to yet another door in which I could bond with my client.

My dear companion was a teenager during the 1940's, and the music reminded her just how wonderful of a life she has lived throughout the years.  As the songs kept coming, she then started to conversate with me about them and what she remembered most about life when listening to her favorite musicians.  She would get so excited when she heard a song that she really loved; singing aloud and smiling from cheek to cheek.

I could tell using the non-verbal technique of music was just what she needed that day to keep her spirits high.  Alzheimer's patients often times get frustrated and irritated with the world.  With the music rolling and the memories flowing, listening to melodies of the client's or loved one's choice just might be a charming redirective.  Memories from childhood are the special remembrances that do not seem to fade with Alzheimer's.  If we can rekindle the consciousness of music, why not bring back a piece of happiness to our loved one's mind?

Do you have a precious elder in your life that goes "ga ga" over music of their day?  Who are their favorite artists?   

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Technique Tip #3

Slam on the breaks, deer in the headlights looking directly at you...this is what I experienced when I attempted to tell my client of the time change that has recently occurred.  She did not understand what in the world I was referring to when I told her I had changed the clock time that night in order for us to be aware of the correct time when she got up the following morning.  In her day and age, she had not had to change the clock for daylight savings time.  Only in the past several years has South Bend/Mishawaka had to do this, and she was as confused as she could be.  In order for me to clarify what I was trying to tell her, I had to rephrase my explanation.

The verbal technique of rephrasing is a beneficial route to take when an individual with Alzheimer's does not comprehend information.  Instead of me telling my client, "we have to move your clock back an hour, that is why it is reading seven o'clock when it is actually eight o'clock," I simply rephrased my wording as, "I have changed the time of your clock to read seven o'clock rather than eight o'clock."  In restating this information, I also used a shorter sentence as to keep confusion at a minimum. 

Even though my restating the material got the point of time change across to her, which she said she understood, she still stuck with her testimony that the clock was still going to be wrong in the morning. :)  I sincerely agreed with her that, "yes, the clock will be wrong in the morning."  Rephrasing helped my client understand the issue of the time change, yet there were underlying matters that she still disagreed with.  There was no harm in allowing her to think what she wants.  Besides, in the morning, the clock would show the correct time and she would then agree. 

The use of verbal techniques allows us to be resourceful and interpret the unclear.  Does anyone have a story of how rephrasing information opened another door of knowledge?  Did your client or loved one truly understand the whole picture, or were there underlying circumstances?  I would love to her your report.