Talking and listening to people with Alzheimer's makes many of us uncomfortable. We may be inclined to contradict, to tune out, to become impatient. This knowledgeable guide will increase your confidence and show you many ways to connect kindly with someone with dementia. The same practical points apply whether you're interacting with a family member, a patient, a client, a colleague, or even someone you know more casually. You can promote purposeful living and preserve independence, even in brief encounters or visits. The more of us who become fluent in talking and listening to people with dementia, the less socially isolated and at risk this still-growing group will be.
As neurologist William Shankle observes in the book's foreword: "From a scientific perspective, the final frontier is not space, as Star Trek proclaimed, but rather the understanding of behavior.... Dr. Jane Mahakian's direct experience, knowledge, and wisdom in finding solutions to these difficult problems is akin to that of an artist applying their creativity to express a new way of seeing the world."
At the heart of I hear you are vignettes that will give you a glimpse into the realm of forgetfulness. You may find yourself nodding or smiling as you read them, or you may be touched or surprised.
Gerontologist Jane L. Mahakian has specialized for more than 30 years in managing the care of people with forgetfulness, primarily Alzheimer's and other dementias. Writer Alyson Kuhn sought Dr. Jane's guidance when she needed to move her mother, who lived gracefully with dementia for ten years, to a memory care community. Alyson's detailed email exchanges and many phone calls with Dr. Jane over several years formed the basis for the I hear you writing partnership.