Hello. I usually post in the chronic pain forum. I do not have a family member or friend with Alzheimer's, but I am now doing volunteer work with Alzheimer's patients, which has been incredibly rewarding but also difficult at times. I want to ask if any of you have any suggestions about how best to communicate with these beautiful people who have been afflicted with Alzheimer's.
I volunteer with my two certified therapy dogs at local nursing homes and hospitals that care for Alzheimer's patients. My dogs recently received their certification, and it is often magical watching them interact with the residents. It's amazing because they somehow know who wants to see them and who does not. Some of the residents recognize that they are dogs and want to cuddle with them and stroke their incredibly soft fur. When my dogs lightly kiss their faces, they often giggle with laughter. Interestingly, the residents seem to be communicating with my dogs with complete ease. When I ask them questions, however, they sometimes have difficulty replying. Often, the residents are rocking in chairs, and we go down the line and visit each person individually. When they see the dogs, their faces almost always light up.
I want to ask all of you if you have any suggestions about how best to communicate with the Alzheimer's patients I visit. Now, if I see that a person is having difficulty replying, I just tell them a little about my dog, such as his name or favorite food. Also, at times, I've found that no spoken words are needed with some patients. They get such joy and love when they're cuddling with my dogs, and that's often the best medicine.
To all of you currently dealing with Alzheimer's in your life, I am sending lots of warm thoughts and prayers your way. I know that I can only make a very tiny difference in the lives of the patients I visit, but if I help one person feel better, I've accomplished what I set out to do.
Thank you in advance for any input.
"The most called-upon prerequisite of a friend is an accessible ear." Maya Angelou