Our Unplanned Journey – Part 5

Our Unplanned Journey – con’t
April 27, 2018
May Chatterbox
May 25, 2018


 Since Alzheimer’s gradually affects a person’s ability to communicate, it was important for me to understand that this would be a normal part of our “unplanned journey”.  I understand that struggling to communicate is frustrating to my husband.  So, I need to listen patiently as he struggles for words or comprehension.  If he asks for help, I give it.  Otherwise, I don’t try to hurry him or interrupt him or guess what he is trying to say.  Most of the time, he is able to struggle through and communicate what he is trying to say.  He is able to participate in meaningful conversations and enjoys social get-togethers, but sometimes it becomes a little overwhelming.  Too much stimulation can cause confusion.

Recently, he was trying to understand all that he has gone through over the past year regarding the ulcerative colitis diagnosis he received recently.  There was so much information, that he simply could not grasp everything.  The solution I found was to create a timeline on paper of all the physician visits, symptoms, prescriptions, etc. that he could read slowly and review whenever he wanted to.  This worked well for him because, even if he forgot, he could review it any time.  I believe this eliminated the frustration he had from not being able to grasp everything.   It was actually a help to both of us.  There was a lot to remember.

Losing a train of thought is a typical Alzheimer’s symptom.  My husband has a wonderful sense of humor and it came in handy during a recent situation.  He was going to spray the yard for dandelions.  He measured out the amount of weed killer he needed to put in his big sprayer and set it down in the garage.  He decided to use up the solution in a small sprayer before using the big one.  After he finished that, he got the big sprayer and filled it with water like he was supposed to do.  He proceeded to spray all of the dandelions in the front and back yard.  When he returned to the garage, he saw the measured weed killer sitting there and realized he had just sprayed all of the dandelions with “water”.  He came in the house laughing at what he had done and saying, “I just had an Alzheimer’s experience”.  What a blessing a sense of humor is!  This could have been a very upsetting, discouraging experience.  He just put the weed killer into the big sprayer and went back out and finished the job.  He got some good walking exercise that day.

The Alzheimer’s Organization suggests the following:

  • Take time to listen
  • Give time to respond
  • Explore which method of communication is most comfortable
  • Humor lightens the mood and makes communication easier
  • Friendship and support are important
  • Avoid criticizing or correcting
  • Avoid arguing
  • Offer clear, step-by-step instructions for tasks
  • Speak slowly and clearly

I believe that empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another) is the basic key to communication with my husband.