How to communicate with loved one when DEMENTIA changes sense of reality By Janice Lynch Schuster / For The Washingtong Post


My grandmother, who is 92, recently reported that she’d seen three giraffes in her Midwest backyard. She is otherwise sharp (and also kind and funny), but the giraffe episode was further evidence of the mild cognitive impairment that has been slowly creeping into her life.

The question for my family has become: How should we respond?

Communicating with a family member who has cognitive impairment can be frustrating and disheartening, even downright depressing for patient and caregiver alike. And it’s a problem faced by a growing number of Americans. According to a recent report, about 1.4 million Americans have dementia. As baby boomers reach old age, these numbers are expected to increase dramatically.

A number of techniques can help reduce the frustration and also create new ways of connecting. Among the most effective and popular among experts is the “validation method,” a practice pioneered by geriatric social worker and researcher,Naomi Feil in the 1980s.

As its name suggests, the practice is based on the idea of validating a patient’s experience – to empathize, even if what the person is expressing doesn’t seem to make sense.

In my grandmother’s case, that might have been to ask how tall the giraffes were or how she felt upon seeing them.

“You match her emotions,” Feil says.  You communicate that you “know that it’s real and meaningful for her, that she’s not psychotic or hallucinating.”

Strategies for talking to people with dementia are not so different from effective listening techniques. Jo McCord, a family consultant for the Family Caregiver Alliance in San Francisco, suggests imagining yourself in your loved one’s position. Using these strategies may help:

Don’t argue: “Arguing with them is very damaging to their self-esteem,” McCord says. “Depending on where someone is in the disease, use a different vocabulary. Adapt your behavior to accommodate theirs.”

Patients with dementia can sometimes experience angry outbursts. Center yourself, Feil suggests, and then look closely at the person: Observe her eyes, her facial muscles, anything to distract you from your own reaction. Then try to rephrase what the person has said. “Pick up their emotion,” Feil says. “Reflect it. Then you have some communication.”

Caregivers can be hurt and confused by accusations that they have stolen or hidden a patient’s belongings. Often, these items symbolize some other aspects of the person’s life. Feil suggests that, in these cases, patients are really saying, “‘I’ve lost my youth, my husband, my money, my power, my control.’ It’s a coping method, blaming others.”

Feil says the temptation is great to say anything just to get the person to stop, but doing so can be patronizing and at some level the patient will understand that this is what is happening.

Instead, Feil recommends listening and allowing emotions to be expressed. Try reminiscing about the object, the time or place or people it represented.

Calm yourself: If you are feeling frustrated with your loved one, take a minute, Feil says, and more. Just go up and down the stairs (if you can), or do something else physical to release your own tension. Feil advises family members to “center,” by focusing on their breathing. Breathe in through the nose, she says, count to eight, and then exhale. Repeat six times.

In addition, she recommends finding someone to talk to, perhaps by joining an Alzheimer’s support group. Not talking about what is happening, Feil says, can lead caregivers to “blow up and not be able to use any of these techniques.”

Reframe: In the case of the patient who repeatedly asks a question, Feil suggests you first “imagine the opposite.” If the patient keeps asking what time we’ll leave for an event, for instance, ask, “What will happen if we don’t? Are you worried? Do you think we’ll be late?” This may allow you to detect what’s causing the anxiety. Once you understand what the worries are, you can try to ease or dispel them.

If you are at a loss trying to respond to a patient who simply wants to “go home,” ask specific questions. “Where would you like to go?” Feil suggests. “Whom would you want to see the most? What would you do first?” If your loved one is disoriented about a long-dead loved one, ask, “When did you last see him? What did he say to you?”

Pick up on nonverbal cues: “Sometimes, as cognitive thinking abilities become compromised, the person becomes more attuned to body language and picks up on [your] stress or irritation,” says Lisa Snyder, a social worker at the Shiley-Marcos Alsheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of California at San Diego and author of “Living Your Best With Early-Stage Alzheimer’s.”

In advance stages of the disease, when people have lost their ability to communicate, Feil urges families to turn to music and touch.

“It’s so important to know that people with dementia aren’t infants; they’re not their disease,” Snyder said. “They are people with needs, and you can communicate with them. You need to go where they are; they won’t come to you. Their world makes sense to them, and they often are very creative. The idea in validation is to keep communicating with the person, wherever they are.  [pulled out by ARC from The Baltimore Sun. June 13, 2013]


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SCORNED WIFE SHOOTS HUBBY DEAD Fit of jealousy over mystery textmate results in fatal shooting in Lapu-Lapu City

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

A 47-year-old painter in Lapu-Lapu city was fatally shot Sunday by his pregnant wife who suspected he was having an affair.

Samuel Soliano died instantly of a gunshot wound in the neck.

His wife, Editha, who is one month pregnant with their 10th child, was arrested and detained by the Lapu-Lapu City police.

“They have been quarrelling for a long time now about my father’s secret affairs, which no one was able to prove,” said Resadith Suliano, the couple’s daughter.

Police seized the murder weapon, a .38 caliber revolver which allegedly belongs to the victim.

“I regret killing my husband, but I cannot do anything about it now,” said Editha in Cebuano.

“He was a good provider but he was never honest with me. I left him once but he asked me to come back. He promised to mend his ways, but he never did.”

The couple had been married for 26 years.

Homicide investigator PO1 Jomar Florentino said neighbors in barangay Marigondon heard two gunshots.

Police said prior to the killing, Editha had suspected her husband of having an affair.

She said that lately her husband was fiddling with his mobile phone – sending messages to his textmate, a certain Leonor. At one time, Editha claims she was roused from sleep after Samuel started talking in his sleep and was calling out Leonor’s name.

She said slapped her husband and confronted him, but Samuel denied any wrongdoing.

On Sunday, Editha went to the beach resort where her husband works to check on him. The security guard told her that Samuel had left at 5 p.m.

Editha rushed back home but her husband was not there. She took a bottle of liquor which Samuel kept at home and started drinking.

Editha then instructed her children to go to a relative’s sari-sari store while she waited for Samuel to come home.

When Samuel came in at around 8 p.m, Editha immediately confronted him about what took him so long to come home.

Samuel told his wife that he was invited by a friend to a fiesta celebration, but Editha didn’t believe him and continued to question him about his alleged affair.

Editha then whipped out the revolver and shot her husband.

After the shooting, she instructed her daughter to call the police.

In an interview with Cebu Daily News, she said that her husband would no longer hand over his salary and would just give her a certain amount.

“To my children, please forgive me for what I did, I lost control. I was drunk and pregnant and having problems with your father, please take good care of each other,” Editha said.

A parricide case will be filed against the 41-year-old woman before the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutors Office. /Carine M. Asutilla and Norman V. Mendoza, Correspondents. Cebu Daily News. 6/18/13


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Blessing Prayer for Father’s Day*

ImageBlessed are You, Lord and Father of All Life, who has given to us the gift of the father of our family.

Today, we honor him, and we thank You for the numerous good things that are ours because of him.

His love for us has been a sign of Your divine affection and a sharing if Your holy love.

His continuous concern for our needs and welfare is a mirror of Your holy providence.

And so, as we honor him, we praise You, Father of All Peoples.

Bless him this day with Your strength and holy power that he may continue to be a sign of You, our God, and a priestly parent to our family.

May we who have the honor of bearing his family name do so with great pride.

May we, the members of his family, assist him in his holy duties as a parent with our respect, our obedience, and our deep affection.

Bless him, Lord, with happiness and good health, with peace and with good fortune, so that he who has shared of his very life, may live forever with You, his God and heavenly Father.

This blessing and all graces, we pray, descent upon the father of our family: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.




nb. Family members may give a kiss or other signs of affection to the father.

*This blessing could be given by the eldest chile or by the mother of the family.

Source: E. Hays. 1979. Prayers for the domestic church: A handbook for worship in the home. Easton, Kansas, USA. Forest of Peace Books, Inc.


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Chicken Bas-oy Soup



  • 1/4 pound of chicken meat, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium size onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 grams of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 5 cups of water
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil


Heat oil in cauldron then cook garlic. When garlic turns light brown, add ginger and cook for 2 minutes.  Then add onions and cook for 1 minute, then add the chicken.  Add salt, mix, then cover cauldron and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.  Then stir to slightly fry the chicken. Then add the water and soy sauce. Stir, then bring to boil for 10 to 15 minutes.  You may add a little vinegar or chili power to taste. 

This is the first local dish I have learned from my Mama Nesing.  I have started cooking, maybe at age 5.

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How to make cafe latte (Binisaya style)



  • 1 mug of fresh full milk
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon of instant cofee
  • 1 or 1/2 tablespoon of sugar


Heat the fresh milk in the microwave to boil. (Maybe 2.5 to 3 minutes.) Carefully remove from the microwave, then add instant coffee and sugar. Mix well. Enjoy your cafe latte! 🙂 [I have learned this from Mary Eunice Nicolas of Maryland. Salamat Eunice.]

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Pepper/Mushroom/Radish Salad Preprandial



  • 1 big red  bell pepper; sliced in 1 cm.
  • 1 big yellow bell pepper; sliced in 1 cm.
  • 1 big green or orange bell pepper; sliced in 1 cm.
  • 5 big fresh oyster mushroom; sliced in 1 cm.
  • 1 pack of pickled round thinly sliced radish
  • [missing in the picture] crab meat stick (imitation)


Put the pickled radish in the center of a round plate and the other 4 ingredients around it, as shown in the picture above.  To eat, get one sheet of the pickled radish, and use it to wrap one slice from each of the 4 other ingredients [and few strands of the crab meat stick].  You need a freshly washed hands to enjoy this very healthy antipasto. [I have learned this simple preprandial from a very nice Korean lady who works as a scientist at National Institute of Health (Maryland). Thanks HK. :)]

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Asian Beef & Brown Rice



  • 2 tablespoons Kikkoman Soy Sauce or Silver’s Swan
  • 1 pound lean ground beef, chicken or turkey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 4 green onions & tops, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh coriander (cilantro)


Combing 1-2/3 cup water and soy sauce. Heat large frying pan over high heat. Add beef and garlic; stir-fry 5 minutes, or until brown. Add bell pepper and cayenne;stir-fry 1 minute longer. Mix in rice and soy sauce mixture. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 50 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. [If rice is still hard, add more water.] Mix in green onion & tops and coriander. Remove from heat. Let stand covered 10 minutes before serving. Makes 4 servings; about 1-1/4 cups each. [Recipe pulled from the Nishiki Premium Brown Rice plastic bag.]

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Archie’s Fried Rice :)



  • 3 to 4 cups of 1-day old steamed white rice
  • 2 eggs, scrambled (cook separately) & thinly sliced; 1 inch long
  • 5 heads of garlic; thinly sliced
  • 1 pc. of onion; small size; thinly sliced
  • 4 stalks of green onions; sliced
  • 1/4 cup of green peas
  • 1 cup lettuce – tear
  • 1/8 cup of cubed carrots
  • cubed or sliced leftover hotdogs or meat or sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Heat olive oil in a big frying pan.  Add garlic. When brown, add rice then mix well until oil is even. Cover the pan for 3 minutes and lower the fire  Then add sliced onion and salt, and mix well. Cover for 2 minutes. Then add the sliced scrambled eggs and the leftover hotdog/sausages/meat. Mix well then cover for 2 minutes. Put fire on medium.  Then mix in carrots and lettuce. Remove from heat, mix well, then cover the pan for 5 minutes.  Then mix in the green onions to serve. [You may also use seafood instead of meat.]

n.b. The fried rice in photo is the simplified version, i.e. no leftover meat, no lettuce. 🙂

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