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Memory Aids, Social Skills, Communication with Alzheimer's Patients

To maintain quality of life, Alzheimer's patients need to feel useful. They also need help with memory, social skills and communicating. Learn more at HealthyPlace.

To maintain quality of life, Alzheimer's patients need to feel useful. They also need help with memory, social skills and communicating.

Occupation

We all need to feel useful and needed. This does not change when someone develops Alzheimer's. Carrying out appropriate activities around the home or in the garden, if you have one, is a way of enabling a person with Alzheimer's feel useful and to practice everyday skills.

Suggestions for chores in the home include dusting, polishing, folding clothes, laying and clearing tables, drying dishes and sorting cutlery. Work in the garden might include digging, watering, raking or sweeping leaves.

You will know what the person's past interests were. Look and see whether you can help them to maintain skills related to past interests. If the person used to enjoy carpentry, they may get satisfaction from sanding a piece of wood, for example. If they enjoyed cooking they may be able to advise you on a recipe or help with a particular dish.

  • It is more important that the person feels useful than that they complete the task perfectly.
  • If you do have to redo something, be very tactful and make sure that they are not aware of this.
  • Remember to thank the person for their help.

Memory aids

Memory aids and frequent reminders given at the appropriate stage may enable the person to practice their skills for longer. Common sense measures such as labels on cupboards and drawers, a large calendar, a notice board for messages, notes stuck by the front door, for example, can all help in the early stages of Alzheimer's when the person is able to understand the message and to act upon it.

Social skills

  • Meeting people and getting out and about will enable people with Alzheimer's to maintain their social skills for longer. It can also help to counteract the apathy and withdrawal so common in Alzheimer's. However, remember that the person will need plenty of individual attention at social gatherings and on outings.
  • Explain the situation to friends and neighbors so they will understand changes in behavior.
  • Encourage the person to attend a day center if a suitable place is offered. You will both benefit from a break, even for a few hours, and a good day center will help maintain social and other skills.

 


  • Accompany the person with Alzheimer's to places where other people go. This might be a visit to the shops, to a garden center to a gallery or to a park, depending on their interests.
  • If the person enjoys going out for a drink or a meal, continue this for as long as possible. A word with the manager of a friendly pub, café or restaurant can often smooth the way if there are likely to be minor embarrassments.
  • Encourage the person to take a pride in their appearance so that they feel more confident. Helping the person to get dressed up before they go out or before visitors come can make it more of an occasion.

Communicating

We all need to communicate with other people. Communicating our needs, wishes and feelings is vital - not only to improve our quality of life but also to preserve our sense of identity. As a caregiver, it's important to encourage the person with Alzheimer's to communicate in whichever way works best for them.

We tend to think of communication as talking, but in fact, it consists of much more than that. As much as 90 percent of our communication takes place through nonverbal communication such as gestures, facial expressions and touch.

  • Non-verbal communication is particularly important for a person with Alzheimer's who is losing their language skills
  • When a person with Alzheimer's behaves in ways that cause problems for their caregiver, they may be trying to communicate something.

Sources:

Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, Effective Nursing Interventions for the Management of Alzheimer's Disease, June 2000.

Alzheimer's Association

National Institute on Aging

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 3). Memory Aids, Social Skills, Communication with Alzheimer's Patients, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/alzheimers/maintaining-quality-of-life/memory-aids-social-skills-communicating

Last Updated: May 8, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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