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When Words Fail




  • Advice is given on how to prolong the person with Alzheimer's ability to speak
  • Guidance on how to listen and look beyond words to the emotions behind the words
  • Describes ways to cope when words fail
  • Discusses other ways of communicating besides the use of verbal language
  • Explains the importance of the carer being there until the end and to continue with efforts to get through to the other person

In this chapter, ways of coping when the other person either won't or can't speak are suggested. The importance of keeping in mind the relevance of any interaction, or how minimal the content is, it should be born in mind. Advice and guidance is always given through the author's experience with her own mother who had Alzheimer's.


Contents include

  • Some words of encouragement
    • Helping to prolong their ability to speak
    • The relevance of the emotion behind the words
    • Speaking and listening are always meaningful acts
  • When words fail
    • Thinking of sounds as a call sign
    • Words are not the only means of responding
    • Even silence and bad behaviour communicate something
  • Being there at the end
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Author / Editor Biographies

Dr Jane Crisp lectures in communication, media studies and women's studies. Her experiences with her own mother, who is now in an advanced stage of dementia, first suggested to her the possibility of drawing on her professional background to help people who are dementing and those who care for them. For the last five years Jane has been working on the language of people who are dementing and on strategies for making sense of this language. She has given talks on this work and had articles published both in Australia and overseas. During 1994 she spent six months in France, meeting and exchangi...

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