Don't Talk Down to Alzheimer's Patients: Docs

Trouble communicating leads to frustration, uncooperative behavior
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2008 8:30 PM CDT
Alzheimer's sufferer Robert Melnick, stands near wife Delores and one of their dogs, Kiowa, outside their home.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Even after they lose the ability to communicate easily, Alzheimer’s disease patients remain aware of the world around them and know when they're being talked down to, a study shows. Video evidence suggests patients are twice as likely to accept help from caregivers, and to not shut down or become distressed, when addressed not as children but as adults, the Chicago Tribune reports.

A specialist who applauded the study went a bit further, suggesting caregivers not dismiss  patients' efforts to connect. They should “enter into a patient's reality instead of forcing that person into our reality,” he said. “Don't remind them of their disability. Don't tell them they're wrong. And by all means, don't be condescending or critical.”