Memory flashcards can help improve communication with and caregiving for Alzheimer’s patients according to an interesting article I just read called “Unlocking the Silent Prison” by Christine Wicker. The article cites the dementia research of Michelle S. Bourgeois, who is an expert at communicating with people who have dementia and gives examples of how flashcards have helped people talk to Alzheimer’s sufferers. Here is the gist of why flashcards work:
“Even when dementia is so advanced that people cannot speak, they can read if the words are large enough,” Bourgeois explains. “We know because they smile, make pleasant sounds, and stroke photos of loved ones with captions.”
In contrast, she says, “Spoken words literally go through one ear and out the other. Patients understand, but they can’t store the memory. That’s why they ask the same question again and again.”
Wow, that is a revolutionary discovery to be shared with the many caregivers struggling out there. I wish I had known about this technique and could have tested it out while my own mother was battling Alzheimer’s, it might have helped while she was in the middle stage of this disease. The example of the patient refusing to shower who was helped to do so with flashcards hit close to home – my mother did the exact same thing and had to be heavily medicated to accomplish the task.
Flashcards are an exciting advance in Alzheimer’s caregiving and one that definitely needs to be shared. Read the article to learn more, and I hope it might help with your own caregiving efforts.
Reference/Photo courtesy of Parade Magazine
Links revised 3/16/16