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Alzheimer's: She Wanted Two Kisses
By Gwendolyn de Geest, RN, BSN, MA 
(Page 4 of 4)

Adding Flavor
When caregivers face this situation, they need to first assess who is this person? Although the individual may not be speaking, their body language is alive with feelings. Is the person happy, sad? Are they moving around in an agitated manner? What are the eyes saying? The eyes are the ‘windows of our soul.’ Jack has learned to read the message in Rose’s eyes and her relaxed body language. Jack discovers that he needs to pay particular attention to Rose’s facial expression, as he notes “a special little smile around Rose’s mouth…………”

Putting it all Together
A large part of communicating with anyone is related to ‘the knowing.’ Knowing who this person was prior to the dementia. Jack knows that Rose loves classical music. He knows about her personhood, and her sense of self? When caregivers have this information, they are then able to embrace who Rose is, and to understand her emotions so much better. This truly enhances the communication process, empowering both the caregiver and the person.

What Works:
- gentle touch
- understanding the body language
- knowing the person

What Doesn’t Work:
- noisy environment
- rushing the person
- don’t talk about them in front of them

Suggested Readings:
- There’s Still a Person in There; Michael Castleman, Dolores Gallagher-Thompson, Matthew Naythons; 1999
- Best Friend’s Approach; Virginia Bell, David Troxel; 2002
- Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s; Joanne Koenig Coste; 2004


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