Carrying out repetitive household chores can help boost the self-esteem of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease, according to experts at the Neurology Clinic of the University of Marburg in Germany.
Such tasks might include washing up, sweeping, cleaning the house or peeling potatoes. Being able to cope with such activities makes Alzheimer patients feel less depressed and more involved in what is going on around them.
Symptoms of the disease, which is a widespread form of senile dementia, include loss of memory, confusion and problems with speech and understanding.
Communication with an Alzheimer patient can generally be improved by maintaining eye contact and by speaking in simple and easy-to-comprehend sentences.
Offering too many choices when posing questions tends to confuse the Alzheimer sufferer.
"It is much better to ask a person 'Would you like a piece of apple cake or chocolate cake?' than bombard them with questions about a whole range of items on offer," according to guidelines from the Marburg experts.
Direct questions best
Questions which require only a simple yes or no answer are also deemed more helpful.
"The question can be reinforced with gestures or through touch," the neurologists say.
Frustrating or difficult situations often cannot be resolved through words alone, and it is often better to simply hug or affectionately stroke a person with the disease rather than insist on them being able to understand what is said, the Marburg experts say.
Some estimates say as many as 26 million people worldwide are suffering from the various effects of Alzheimer's.
According to US medical experts, one in five people over the age of 80 suffers from Alzheimer's, with five percent of those over 65 having some form of the disease.
In Germany the number of people being treated for senile dementia stands at 700,000.
For more information visit: www.alzheimer.ca/english/society/intro.htm dpa/tmn th tk cf mb
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