As a nursing home attorney, I’ve spent many hours working with and talking to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Even though many nursing home administrators and personnel don’t credit the word of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, our Chicago nursing home lawyers know that, if approached correctly, they can provide critical information in a nursing home neglect lawsuit.
As such, we are always looking for the best way to communicate with the people we’re trying to protect. Some of the most effective techniques we’ve gleaned from reports from the Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations. Others have been developed through experience.
1. Always wear plain, neutral colors. People with dementia are easily distracted by flashy colors and images. Keeping it plain helps them focus.
2. Introduce yourself (and them). Dementia is a confusing condition for the victim. Sometimes they may not know who you are, but are reluctant to show this lack of knowledge. People with dementia can become very adept at “faking” their way through conversations. Always begin a conversation by introducing yourself (even if you are a close relative), and always call the resident by the name he or she calls himself.
3. Get down to eye level. Since my clients are typically the victims or nursing home neglect, they are most likely unable to stand on their own. Don’t speak to them from above. This tip is really not unique to people who are suffering from dementia. No one likes to be spoken down to
4. Don’t Interrupt. Talking to people suffering with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can be extremely frustrating… for the sick person. The disease makes it hard to keep a train of thought. It’s hard work getting from point A to B through the highways and intersections of a brain that’s become affected by dementia. It can be done, but only the patient can do the work. Don’t derail them.
5. Observe non-verbal communications. Many times nursing home residents who can’t find the words for what they want to say can communicate non-verbally. Hand gestures and facial expressions can speak volumes.
Communicating with dementia victims is challenging, but it’s part of what we do as Chicago nursing home lawyers to ensure that we have all the facts at hand. If you have a loved one in Illinois who has been the victim of nursing home neglect, contact my law offices for a free and confidential evaluation of your case.