Do we give or not give the word to an Alzheimer's person when they are stuck?

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My husband and I are the court appointed guardian and conservator for my 62 year old sister-in-law who has Alzheimer's. She often has difficulty coming up with the correct word in conversations. I usually know what she wants to say. If I tell her she gets mad if I wait for her to try to figure it out she gets mad. I try to hit a happy medium and let her try for a little bit before I give her the word. Anyone else have this problem?

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I will wait to give Mom time to come up with the word, but iff I am sure I know what she is trying to communicate, I go on as if she used the word. I may say something like, "Oh, yes, the ___," or work it into my reply. I figure the whole point is communication, and if we both know what we're talking about, then why stress her with the not so gentle reminder that her language is fading. She's already scared and stressed, so I don't want to provoke hostility by picking at the scab she keeps over her fear and humiliation. It is hard to remember to do this, and I am certainly not successful all the time, but I figure the right word is often a small thing that I don't need to sweat.
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Hi bfox 948, I try to do what you do and wait and then supply but don't underestimate them like l did my Mom (though her dementia is pretty mild, I think).-- Every year my brother gets my Mom a hanging basket for back porch for Mother's Day-every year for years! So when I asked her how her Mom's Day was (we couldn't be up due to a meeting that day-seriously on Mom's day- for our girl's camp) and she said my brother got her a lamp for the back porch I said "a plant?' and she said "a lamp" (now she whispers so it is hard to hear her on the phone) and I said "Yes, a nice plant, huh?" And she said yes, a nice LAMP" Welp- I thought she was mixed up and let it go only to find out from my Dad my brother DID get her a lamp that goes on the back deck. Poor Mom-- bad enough that she does get mixed up at times but then she gets it right and I go confusing her!! I blame my brother--- why didn't he just stick with the plant??? (;0)

No, seriously, good luck with your SIL. Blessings to you all.
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Great question, bfox948. I don't have a definitive answer, but I, too, am interested in what others have to say about this.

I am told this sort of increasing difficulty with language is a particular hallmark of my father's flavor of progressive dementia -- fronto temporal dementia (FTD) -- and I have definitely noticed him struggling a bit to find words this year. So far, I find myself automatically leaping in to supply the missing word or words ... it's a reflex ... but I, too, have been wondering if I should try to curtail that behavior. He doesn't get mad, so far, but I understand that isn't an uncommon reaction. It's harder for me not to do it when I'm on the phone, because I can't see his face and so can't "read" what he's experiencing ... i.e., does he look a little frantic, like he wants to be "rescued"? If I say nothing and the silence stretches out, will he think I hung up and went away? and so on.

I have read a few "from the inside" points of view on this, and in those writings, the person with the FTD general preferred to be given at least some time to find the word he/she was seeking. Those authors also wanted people to know that sometimes they had a limited amount of language available to them during the day, and that sometimes, they didn't want to talk because they were "saving up" their words for a specific time later in the day ... it didn't mean that they were mad or upset, just conscious of limitations.

Interested to know what others say on this subject ... I'll keep trying to let him find the words himself, but it's hard, even when I'm there in person. He usually closes his eyes and frowns while he pauses ... I have a mental image of him racing desperately through a tower of locked, unlabeled filing cabinets, completely at a loss as to which one contains the info he needs and how to open it even if he knew. :-(
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What a GREAT question...!!!! I usually do what you do, give them some time, and then fill in the blank...in your case if she is going to get angry either way, do what is comfortable for you.... thanks for sharing this with us.... hugs
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