This is another excerpt from THE ALZHEIMERS ACTION PLAN, a new book “… combining the insights of a world-class physician and an award-winning social worker…
GETTING OTHERS TO UNDERSTAND
Explaining Alzheimer’s to friends and family, including to those who have Alzheimer’s, is never easy and always important.
30. “How do you get your friends to understand that just because you have Alzheimer’s, you’re not deaf and dumb?” —A sixty-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s
It might surprise people who don’t have the disease, but this is a very common and devastating problem for people with early Alzheimer’s. Friends and family make wrong assumptions about your capabilities, which makes trying to adapt to Alzheimer’s even more difficult. Here are some pointers on what to say.Your friends will probably follow your husband’s or children’s example, so start with family first. Explain very directly that:
• although you repeat yourself because you can’t remember who has heard your stories, Alzheimer’s doesn’t make you deaf or dumb (speaking loudly, for example, is completely unnecessary) • you still enjoy going out, say, to dinner, museums, shows, or shopping, but you do better in familiar places earlier in the day or with a companion • you would appreciate rides to places and reminders about events • hosting or coordinating activities has become too stressful, but you would enjoy helping with them • you hope everyone can ignore your mistakes and laugh with you at the crazy things we all do, to varying degrees, as we age
For more advice, contact the Alzheimer’s Association about joining an early-stage Alzheimer’s support group, either online or in person, where you’ll get lots of tips (and sympathy) from other members. The association also has materials illustrating how to talk to and offer dignified help to people with Alzheimer’s.
31. “How can I explain to my five-year-old why his grandmother keeps calling him by his father’s name?” —A thirty-three-year-old daughter-in-law
Answer his questions simply and matter-of-factly. Children often surprise adults with their acceptance of differences. Read more