Saturday, July 31, 2010

Alzheimer’s and Children

Taking children to visit those with Alzheimer’s disease is a valuable learning experience for the young ones and a great kindness for the older ones. Health care professionals say older patients respond positively, even joyfully, to the presence of children. And children are naturally more willing to accept people who tend to forget or confuse names and places. Children will listen to old stories and not be made uncomfortable by what older people see as disconnected ramblings. However, parents need to prepare their children for such visits. Here are a few little lessons for children (and, for that matter, adults) to learn before visiting.
➤ Say your name when you arrive and whenever asked, no matter how often.
➤ Speak slowly and clearly.
➤ Smile.
➤ Give hugs and hold hands.
➤ Be calm and gentle.
➤ Be ready to sing a song or tell a story.

Dealing with Lately Disabled People

You may need an extra supply of tact and generosity with a friend or acquaintance who has become disabled later in life, possibly because of Meniere’s disease, lupus, or multiple sclerosis. Often, you may know of such disabilities only if the person actually tells you.
One of the most common reactions among the lately disabled is a feeling of extreme self-consciousness in the company of able-bodied persons. The lately disabled are acutely sensitive to pity from others.
The lately disabled may also suffer from a loss of self-esteem. They may have lost their jobs and are worried about money. Keep in mind that they are unable to do many of the things that once defined them in their own minds—things that were part of their sense of self-worth.
They may also be suffering from depression, grieving for the person they once were, and struggling toward a realization of the new person they now must be. The lately disabled may also experience boredom and wish for structure. You can help by getting them involved in activities, particularly those activities that involve exercise. Provide structure by offering to make appointments or arrangements for certain definite times and sticking to the plan.
Therefore, be prepared for displays of bad temper and frustration. And don’t take them personally.

Dealing With People Suffering Developmental Disability

Dealing with people with developmental disabilities may present you with the most difficulties and require the most patience, particularly in the workplace. The key is to treat people with developmental disabilities as normally as possible and to set the same standards for them as you would for others. If, for example, the person tries to become too affectionate, explain that such behavior is not appropriate.
Make sure your tone is firm but not reprimanding. Here are some other tips:
  • Be careful about touching the person. Touching may signal approval of such behavior, which a person with developmental disabilities may use to curry favor.
  • Some people with developmental disabilities are very sensitive to body language and tone of voice. Make sure your silent messages are nonthreatening. Be firm but pleasant. Speak with a smile on your face and in your voice.
  • Criticism and accusatory language have a demoralizing effect on everyone. Instead of saying, “You made a mistake,” try “How about doing it like this?”
  • Recognize that repetition is important in teaching the developmentally disabled and be prepared to be patient.