I recently started volunteering with the activites directors on a memory ward and love it! I seem to have a knack for engaging them, but fall short with the ones that have lost most of there verbal skills. I feel as though I am being condescending if I just smile and nod when I don't understand what they are trying to communicate. Any advice?
Sometimes it is hard as a group for someone who cannot express. My FIL can no longer talk in full sentence. But smiling at him still works. You may not have to nod to make the person see your reaction. Smiling and being there helps. Sometimes they would make gestures and you can tell if you try to give them a cup of juice or say something to them. They can still hear you. Saying things nice and soothing helps too. Don't worry what they are thinking as we would never know. Just be friendly and positive.
For example, the last time the meaningful interaction between my husband and his Dad who does not walk was that my FIL kept smiling at him and my husband smiled back. Also he was able to exchange my husband's hat with the other hat in the room. Lots of gestures. It is hard as a group. Usually it is easier in small groups.
Last edited by ninamarc; 07-05-2012 at 01:22 PM.
The Following User Says Thank You to ninamarc For This Useful Post: mediaudi (07-05-2012)
Bless you. I have seen firsthand that some people seem to have a knack for working with this part of the population. How wonderful that you are willing to share your talents. I know it will be appreciated by many.
I recently lost my mom after nine years of her living in a facility for patients with Alzheimers. I was very lucky in that she never went through a personality change and never lost her "social skills." By that, I mean she would always smile when "meeting" someone, or when someone directed something to her.
Sometimes just holding someone's hand is beneficial, or just sitting by someone and making an attempt to understand, if they are speaking "gibberish." I always found this extremely difficult to do as you feel so helpless that you cannot make out what the person is trying to communicate, and yet the person is making such an effort. Often, the best I could do were some smiles and nods, and holding her hand.
Often you can redirect the person. Just start talking about something that is going on around the person in the room, or share something about yourself that might somehow relate to the situation...or not. Sometimes it doesn't really matter, as far as anyone can tell, anyway.
Thank you for volunteering. Someone's daughter or son will appreciate you very much.
mediaudi... bless you for what you are doing. Just being there is enough. Talking to them with a sweet smile and laughter will make a huge difference, no matter what you say to them. They just need to know they ae noticed and cared about. Bringing tactile items for them to feel and touch may help. Items of different, shapes, sizes, and textues may fascinate them. Just make sure they are too big to be mouth objects Reading to them or singing with them works as well. As you gain experience it will become easier. There is a geat book.... Learning to Speak Alzheimer's.... that might be helpful as well. Keep doing what you are doing because you are enriching the lives of every resident you smile at
My thank you too. My spouse is one of those patients who can only speak gibberish. He will smile and respond with gibberish when someone talks to him, so he's interacting in his own way. He never appeared to get frustrated that he wasn't getting "through" to us. It was enough for him that he was interacting with someone. The aides seem to have a litany of responses to gibberish like "You can say that again," "I couldn't agree with you more" and "You're the man, xxx (name)." It satisfies everyone.
Thank you for volunteering! You are adding to their lives!