This makes sense. A new study in Kansas shows that patients with Alzheimer’s disease still have an adult identity, and despite extreme cases of not knowing where they are or what the year is, they don’t enjoy being babied or patronized. The researchers videotaped Alzheimer’s patients in three nursing homes:
Researchers then analyzed the tapes, assessing how the manner in which staff interacted with patients influenced patients’ behavior and the quality of care.
They discovered that when nursing aides communicated in a kind of baby talk for seniors–using a high-pitched sing-song tone, comments like “good girl,” diminutives like “honey” and language that assumed a state of dependency (“are we ready for our bath?”)–Alzheimer’s patients were twice as likely to resist their efforts to help.
Patients would turn or look away, grimace, clench their teeth, groan, grab on to something, cry or say “no”–behaviors that can be read as indications of distress at being patronized or infantilized, said lead researcher Kristine Williams, an associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Nursing.
“Communication can really impact care,” she said.
They also discuss how in the past, experts thought that Alzheimer’s patients should be corrected when making a mistake about the time of year or who they’re talking to, the general agreement now is that entering their reality (rather than forcing them into ours) is the more effective way to go, says Dan Kuhn, director of the professional training institute at the Alzheimer Association’s Greater Illinois chapter.”Don’t remind them of their disability. Don’t tell them they’re wrong. And by all means, don’t be condescending or critical.”
AARP’s Bulletin Today is also running a five part series on Alzheimers as well – there’s videos, resources and updated info on treatments.