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Learning to Speak Alzheimer's: A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease
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Learning to Speak Alzheimer's: A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  257 ratings  ·  41 reviews
More than four million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's, and as many as twenty million have close relatives or friends with the disease. Revolutionizing the way we perceive and live with Alzheimer's, Joanne Koenig Coste offers a practical approach to the emotional well-being of both patients and caregivers that emphasizes relating to patients in their own reality. Her acc ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published September 8th 2004 by Mariner Books (first published November 20th 2003)
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Lots of practical tips for living with a person who has Alzheimer’s or a senior with a failing memory or abilities.

1. Make the physical environment work (e.g., eliminate clutter, reduce choices to avoid over-stimulation/confusion – limit a choice to 2 items, avoid too much noise)

2. Know that communication remains possible (e.g., establish eye contact when possible, speak slowly in a low tone using simple sentences, avoid asking open-ended questions, give the person time to think, listen to the e
Dennis Fischman
Joanne Koenig Coste's groundbreaking book helped many people whose loved ones have the disease to view Alzheimer's, not as a scourge to combat, but as a language to learn. It was a major shift. For many, including health professionals, it was a relief. At last, they could stop the futile attempt to reason with someone whose reason is declining, for physical reasons currently beyond anyone's control. They could focus instead on habilitation, Koenig Coste's term for making the patient as capable a ...more
Every occupational therapist working with patients with neurodegenerative disorders should read this book. The habilitation approach breaks down domains and areas of the patient's life similar to the OTPF and many other OT theories. The book offers hundreds of examples on how to modify tasks or the environment in order to optimize the patients current level of functioning in order to maintain/preserve independence.
Jan 12, 2008 Cate rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wanting to understand dementia
Recommended to Cate by: the Oregon Chapter of the Alzheimer's Ass'n
Joanne Koenig Coste's experience with Alzheimer's disease predates the National Alzheimer's Association! Her husband was diagnosed with what we now know to be Early Onset AD when she was pregnant with their 4 child.

Quickly coming to grips with the reality of what was turning her life upside down, she did what she had to do.

Luckily she was near Rush Medical Center in Illinois, which pioneered the U.S. early work in the dementia field -- and is why the Alzheimer's Association is also based in Chi
This book had valuable insights, it is such a terrible disease, see my dad slipping away
This book is very helpful for anyone who had to start dealing with a relative who has this disease. It points out some important things to consider. I think it saves a person the effort of trying to re-invent the wheel. Great suggestions. Highly recommended.
Really useful advice and tricks of trade for Alzheimer's care and how to successfully interact with patients. Give this to anyone whose loved one in is late mild to moderate stages. A giant step beyond the 36 Hour Day.
An absolutely essential read for anyone dealing with Alzheimer's in any capacity. Coste offers a first-hand account of her life dealing with her husband's disease and it was very moving and practical.
Great book for understanding and coping with Alzheimer's. At times she seemed overly optimistic but I think the methods are good and worth trying for any family caring for a loved one with Alzheimers.
This was an VERY helpful book. It's practical describing the stages one goes through who is experiencing the disease,it provides very helpful strategies for caregivers on providing creative and positive physical, psychological and spiritual guidelines, and it also gives the caregiver ways in which they can cope with their circumstances on a personal level. I would HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone who is a caregiver to one experiencing this devastating disease.
Very good description of Alzheimer's from the point of view of person whose husband had the disease set in while she was pregnant with their last child. This is a realistic almost harsh reality look at the disease and its effects. How to deal with the day to day issues that arise with Alzheimer's patients and what resources may be needed are laid out clearly. The term "habilitation" is coined to describe what the person who is the caregiver/partner is doing to deal with the patient. Very helpful ...more
This is an excellent book for anyone who will interact with an Alzheimer's patient - family or friend. My mother has some dementia (probably not Alzheimer's) but I found the book really helpful as her behavior matches some of the early stage Alzheimer's behaviors. It has helped me understand her frustration at not being able to remember and to have a much more caring and patient attitude when I'm with her. Highly recommended.
Sharon Ader
Apr 29, 2009 Sharon Ader marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Learning to Speak Alzheimer's is written by a woman whose husband had Alzheimer's. I have always found caregivers to be among the best people to talk to and most of those caregivers I have known through support groups. I didn't read this book from cover to cover, but I just didn't feel the connection with this caregiver. I don't know if it is because my mother is a always so very unhappy and angry at us all and the author just seemed to handle it all so easily. Where are the difficult patients. ...more
This was a great book. Even though it's written more for the caregiver, I think it's a great insight into how someone with this disease feels and sees the world and gives tips on how to handle them when they do something strange or hard. The two biggest lessons I walked away with were 1) you can't reason with someone who's beyond reasoning so go ahead and enter their world because it's real to them and 2) You're not a careGIVER you're a carepartner. Allow the person with Alzheimers to be part of ...more
Renee Hauge
I HIGHLY recommend this book. So full of useful information - really, really helpful. The tone is so encouraging and supportive...and in some ways, hopeful (a nice feat considering this is a hopeless disease). This book is definitely a keeper.
Laura Olson
Found the book very helpful in understanding more about the disease and how to keep up communication with the loved one's suffering from it. Here's to hoping continued research will help us understand, heal, and prevent so many from suffering from it.
Rhonda Johnson
As on occupational therapist, caring for my mother in my home, this was an amazing book filled with tons of useful information. My mom is 66 and was diagnosed at 62 with early onset Alzheimer's. this book helps me plan for our upcoming changes.
When a person has Alzheimer's, other people often don't know how to relate to them. This book emphasizes five aspects of "habilitation", which enhances communication and understanding between caregivers and patients. The author helps the reader to reconnect emotionally with the Alzheimer's patient even when verbal communication is limited by the disease. Hundreds of practical tips and an extensive appendix of resources make this a worthwhile read for those who have loved ones with Alzheimer's.
I think what drives my five-star rating for this book was my five-star need to find a roadmap into the Alzheimer disease which is taking my 92 year old mother from me slowly, by inches and by days. I hope you never need a resource like this, because I wouldn't wish the burden of a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia on any other soul. However, if your time comes, you will be better able to function as a caregiver if you have read this book and kept it as a readily accessible resource.
Highly recommend for friends and family of Alzheimer's sufferers.
I got this book ages ago, but couldn't bare to read it. I finally forced myself and still don't think I was ready for it. Coste did an outstanding job of making Alzheimer's easy to understand. The stories she told made it relatable to where you would know what to do if those situations arise. Highly recommend for anyone who has Alzheimer's in their life. :)
Skimmed through. Was not as practical as I'd hoped, but neither was anything else I was able to find. Grandma was far past when these techniques would have been useful - she died a few weeks later after being nearly comatose for one of those. Have been using some with grandpa, who doesn't have Alzheimer's, but is increasingly vague since grandma died.
A very practical and thorough approach to caring for those suffering from Alzheimer's. Packed with simple suggestions (and more complex solutions for institutional settings) that will make both a patient and a caregiver happier and more comfortable. Personal insights added an excellent touch and real depth to the piece.
I found this book both fascinating and practical. I like its sensitivity towards both Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers and its creative approach to problem-solving.

The beginning of the book is not only useful, but touching. Towards the end of the book, the practicality remains, but the writing is drier.
I read this book hoping to gain new insights in how to communicate with my mother who is in end-stage dementia. The book wasn't quite what I expected but it is the most practical book about Alzheimer's patient care I've read. I wish I'd read it years ago.
Pat Baratta
Excellent information for caregivers of Alzheimer's patients.
May 06, 2015 Kate marked it as quit  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mom
Shelves: secondhand
"The accuracy of our interchange was unimportant; her self-esteem was all that mattered."

HOLIDAYS: "Plan on having the person with Alzheimer's be with only one person at a time, to cut down on confusion and oversimulation."
Really interesting, healthy, proactive approach to Alzheimer's. Practical information for protecting the emotional well being of both care giver and patient. Interspersed with actual people living it.
Mark Morrison
If there is an Alzheimer's patient or caregiver in your life, please read this book. It is written with both firsthand knowlege of the disease as well as a lifetime of clinical experience.
An EXCELLENT read for anyone interested in practical, day-to-day things that can be done to ease the transition from ordinary life into the world of alzheimer's (and other dementias).
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