Alzheimer`s Disease/Loss of verbal skills

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Question
My husband was dx with AD 5 years ago aged 69. He was well advanced by then though we were all in denial. I cared for him at home until he started exit seeking...running out in the snow in his pajamas ...also he only spoke gibberish but seemed to understand what was said to him. I placed him in a nursing home almost a year ago. He is very healthy, no problems with agility. He is fully continent.
My question is : is it usual for AD paitients to lose all language skills both verbally and understanding. I should note his first language is Italian. Now he talks a lot in both languages but none of it is intelligible.  I feel so sorry for him.
It is very difficult to get him to change clothes and will only shower or bathe if I am there. He gets very agitated with the staff and does not cooperate. I am not in the best of health and cannot always drive the 20 miles to the nursing home. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can over come this.
Thank you for your time.

Answer
Hi Pamela,

I am so sorry about your husband's illness.  I am sure this has been very difficult for you; but, I applaud your willingness to continue helping him as needed.

Unfortunately, it is very common for a person diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease to lose their verbal skills, especially when English is not their first language.  While each person displays variations in the disease process; it is most likely severely damaging his left frontal lobe area.   And, many AD folks that have frontal lobe damage also display much agitation, behavior challenges.   

First, I would see if he can communicate through pictures.  Flash cards sometimes work. Also, try only asking Yes or No questions.   If none of these options work, it may just come down to understanding his non-verbal language.  Many times I'd hold non-verbal conversations with folks just by sitting with them and we look at each other, through magazines, etc.

With reference to his personal hygiene.  This is common as well.   "Bird bathes"...sink and washcloths may be the best way to stay clean at this stage of his disease.   I often used to ask nursing staff....is it really worth putting a person into an agitated state just to bathe?  Especially if he is continent.  Once his disease progresses, he will become easier to get into the bath.

And, I am sure there is still some sense of him knowing that nursing staff are not family and therefore, why are they wanting to undress him?  Staff will just have to find the best time of day to change his clothing....and, it is OK for him to sleep in his clothes and change them in the morning.

I feel that FLEXIBILITY and PATIENCE are the two biggest parts of helping someone with Alzheimer's.  It is going to be a very non traditional approach to care and constantly changing as the disease progresses.   

With Best Regards,

Michalene Peticca, MA  

Alzheimer`s Disease

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Michalene Peticca

Expertise

I'd be happy to help with any questions about Alzheimer's or Dementia diseases. I can also help with Medicare, Long term care & other insurance questions.

Experience

I have my Masters degree in Geriatrics and am credentialed through the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Pennstate Milton Hershey hospital and the American Geriatrics Society. I've been in healthcare for over 20 years and worked directly with Alzheimer's and Dementia individuals for most of that time. I am also a licensed insurance agent in PA and MD. Currently i train healthcare professionals to care for Alzheimer and Dementia individuals and i have been a care manager for guardianship services in PA

Organizations
American Geriatrics Society

Education/Credentials
Masters degree in Geriatrics Licensed insurance agent in PA & MD.

Past/Present Clients
PHI Homes in Pennsylvania York, Dauphin & Adams County Area on Aging The Jewish Home of Harrisburg

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