Talk slowly to those with Alzheimer's

Nov. 4, 2010 at 1:51 AM
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DALLAS, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Speaking slowly, simplifying questions and being aware of non-verbal cues can improve communication with those with Alzheimer's disease, a Dallas expert says.

Kristin Martin-Cook -- clinical trials coordinator of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas -- suggests when talking to someone with Alzheimer's disease or memory problems, do not criticize the person's speech or point out memory gaps. Instead, prompt the person with missing words matter-of-factly, she suggests.

"Pay attention not only to what needs to be said, but how to say it," Martin-Cook says in a statement.

Martin-Cook suggests when speaking to a person with memory problems:

-- When asking for a decision, present a few options to choose from rather than asking open-ended questions.

-- Speak in short, simple sentences and use gestures as appropriate.

-- Give directions one step at a time.

-- Speak clearly and slowly without background noise.

-- Maintain eye contact and touch the person to focus the person's attention.

-- Be aware of your non-verbal cues, such as tone of voice, body language or emotion, because people with a cognitive disorder are sensitive to these too.

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