Ask an Angel: June 15, 2017

Our Ask An Angel correspondent is Arlene Petersen, Life Care Navigation Specialist in the area of senior home care.

Q. My husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. His memory has declined quite a bit and I’m constantly answering the same questions over and over and it doesn’t take much for me to feel frustrated. What can I do to help us both?

A. The key to caring for and living with someone with memory loss is redirection. Redirection is a technique that takes a little bit of practice and if you can get the hang of it, can make your interaction less stressful. For example, if your husband thinks he must go to work, instead of correcting him and letting him know the “truth,” ask a question about what he will do. So, a redirecting response might be, “what do you have planned for your day at work today?” Let your husband answer and listen as he elaborates. Your discussion will open doors to other redirecting questions. You may land on what he will be eating during his lunch break, or what he will be discussing at an important “meeting.” In any case, this flow of conversation will be void of frustration if you use it as a tool. Our nature is to correct, especially our spouses at times! Be considerate, knowing that his reality is attached to memories from the past. This is the nature of this disease. Once you find your conversational rhythm, your relationship may grow as you discover new stories that are shared, and you might also encounter moments of joy and laughter.

Have a question for our angel correspondent? You can send our angel an email to apetersen@visitingangels.com or send your question via mail to Ask An Angel, 65 Woodbury St., South Elgin, IL 60177.

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