In early November, Rose Kasarda, a recently retired Resource Nurse, presented the in-service workshop, When Communication Is Difficult: Reaching the Cognitively Impaired Patient. Approximately 75 volunteers from across our service area attended the program either as part of a viewing group held in Barrington, Glenview or Woodstock, or they joined us remotely using their home computer. This outstanding presentation provided volunteers with more effective ways to communicate with patients who have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.Here are a few tips shared during the program:
- Begin by approaching the person from the front
- Use the person’s name and use touch to get and hold their attention
- Introduce yourself
- Lower your voice and speak SLOWLY
- Make one statement or ask one question at a time
- Toe-tapping and crossed arms indicate you are in a hurry or angry. People with Alzheimer ’s disease are especially sensitive to these kinds of gestures.
- If you feel the person does not understand you, rephrase your message. Try to use different words to say the same thing.
- If the person still does not seem to understand, or if they are upset, come back a few minutes later and try again, or ask someone else to try.
Handouts and a copy of the presentation are available. Please contact one of the Volunteer Coordinators if you would like a copy.