Learning to Speak Alzheimer's: A Groundbreaking Approach
Author Joanne Koenig Coste offers an abundance of useful guidelines for working with dementia in Learning to Speak Alzheimer's: A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease (Houghton Mifflin, 2004), the definitive handbook of resources for caregivers. Coste, a consultant and former head of the Massachusetts chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, speaks from 30 years of personal and professional experience with cognitively impaired aging people. She counsels "living in the patient's world"--following the impaired person's logic as well as you can in order to bring them back gently to reality--to decode speech and to respond to behavior in ways that maximize dignity and minimize frustration.
Nuggets of wisdom: If faced with challenging behaviors, keep a log to look for triggers for the behavior. If you hear words that don't make sense, say, "I'm having trouble understanding." Offer choices: "Would you like coffee or tea?" Often people with memory impairment will remember the last word they heard, and this "last word heard" technique affords the dignity of choosing.