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How to Crack the Code for Alzheimer’s Communication

Judie Rappaport
June 9, 2015

Dear Judie,
Dad’s (87) advanced Alzheimer’s has left him unable to communicate in English or his native French. When he tries to speak, the word sequences don’t make sense so I have no idea what he’s trying to say. I assume he’s trying to tell me something. How do I crack his code?

- Nick, PSL


Dear Nick,
You’re right. Dad’s likely trying to communicate with you, but Alzheimer’s destroys the parts of the brain governing word finding, understanding and speech. However, AD does not destroy Dad’s ability to derive pleasure through his five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing. Each sense can bring forth endorphins that facilitate communication: 

  1. Touch is king: Nothing compares to warm, gentle hugs and touches for eliciting feelings of safety and joy

  2. Taste: Sweet treats or the familiar taste of Dad’s favorite dinner can increase feelings of safety and comfort

  3. Smell: The aftershave or cologne Dad wore years ago, and other smells from the past can help reduce anxiety

  4. Sight: Photos of family and old friends can trigger pleasant memories. Be sure to talk with Dad about the people in the photos.

  5. Hearing: music or movies from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s may awaken memories Dad can re-treasure

For detailed help managing Alzheimer’s  behavior call the experts at Alzheimer’s Community Care (Martin 772-223-6351, St. Lucie 772-460-9166, Ft. Pierce 772 466-3261), Alzheimer’s Assn. (800-272-3900), and Vero Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s Assn.  (772-563-0505).


Judie Rappaport, President & Founder
Preferred Lifestyle Services

Trust Yourself. You Have the Knowledge, Insight,
and Power to make the right decisions for you and your parent. ©


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