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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

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  355 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
A practical approach to the emotional well-being of both patients and caregivers that emphasizes relating to patients in their own reality. It works to enhance communication between carepartners and patients and has proven successful with thousands of people living with dementia. This book is a roadmap for the journey throught Alzheimer's.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 8th 2004 by Mariner Books (first published November 20th 2003)
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Helpful tips for living with a person who has Alzheimer’s or a senior with a failing memory or abilities. For example:

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 th
Jan 12, 2008 Cate rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 29, 2015 Valarie rated it it was amazing
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.
May 21, 2010 Albert rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 25, 2017 Judy rated it it was amazing
I have given this the converted 5 star review because of the absolute wealth of information written in an easy to read style with many examples and anecdotes. I am very glad I purchased a paper copy as many many pages are full of notations and underscoring. This book will be referred back to frequently now as our family walks this journey with a loved one.
It is actually an amazing compliment to the free University of Tasmania MOOC course called Understanding Dementia that I tell everyone about a
Mark Muckerman
Apr 03, 2016 Mark Muckerman rated it really liked it
I'm going with 4 stars: I have nothing yet to compare it to re: subject matter, utility or accuracy, so all I can rate is "was it a good read for ME?" Yes, it was.

I think it's safe to assume that no one browsing through Barnes & Noble suddenly says "Wow! That book on Alzheimer's looks riveting, let me add that to my pile along with the new Jack Reacher and Stephen King novels." You don't buy a book on a disease unless you're starting a new journey into unfamiliar lands and you're desperate f
Dennis Fischman
Jul 14, 2015 Dennis Fischman rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jul 07, 2014 Pat rated it really liked it
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
Feb 10, 2015 Joe rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 10, 2014 Dennis rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 26, 2009 Dana rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 04, 2009 Elana rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 30, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: career-enhancing
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.
Jan 18, 2010 Pat rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 31, 2016 Chad rated it it was amazing
Holy Sh$@#%*^+=€¥

Great book about how to deal with the disease in yourself or as a caregiver to others. Provides a really thorough understanding but scared the bleep out of me.
Jan 20, 2014 Kathy added it
This book had valuable insights, it is such a terrible disease, see my dad slipping away
Jul 11, 2009 Kathryn rated it really liked it
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
Sharon Ader
Apr 29, 2009 Sharon Ader marked it as to-read
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
Mar 07, 2009 Laurie rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
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.
Feb 06, 2016 Matthew rated it it was amazing
This book gave me a really good overview of Alzheimer's. It covers all stages of Alzheimer's which was good and bad. There were stages that I have not yet seen in my grandmother (and hopefully won't). I think that the habilitation approach that the author details has a lot of merit. Living in the world the patient is in at the moment is such much more helpful since they don't know how to get out of that world and we can understand that the two worlds.
Jul 15, 2014 Stacie rated it really liked it
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. :)
Jul 26, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 25, 2013 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: elder-care
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.
Sep 03, 2016 Wilhemina rated it it was amazing
This is a really good book filled with many practical tips and ideas for the caregiver of an Alzheimer's patient. It also has a section on how to care for the care partner. This is a must read for anybody who plans to take care of an Alzheimer's patient at home or in an assisted living environment.
Fran Gallo
Dec 18, 2015 Fran Gallo rated it really liked it
Beginning layman's book for those who are trying to understand or help someone they love who has been diagnosed with the disease. Nothing really scientific - just general answers to some questions on what you can do to improve the quality of life for the patient and yourself. Does not have all the answers but a good place to start. Recommend.
Nov 01, 2013 Fawn rated it really liked it
Shelves: psych
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.
Jan 14, 2015 Abigail rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful, very helpful guide to caring for people with Alzheimers. And it is full of easy, problem solving methods for adapting the home and lifestyle to positively benefit Alzheimers and dementia patients.
Habilitation is so necessary, and not that difficult. If only more people knew of it and how to do it!
Laura Olson
Aug 24, 2015 Laura Olson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
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
Jan 14, 2014 Rhonda Johnson rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 08, 2015 Renee rated it it was amazing
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.
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