3. Practice good communication.

Active listening and touching on different points can be helpful as a conversation loops around again and again. Clarification and rewording the question go a long way, too. It helps to remember that you can pause in the course of conversation as well. "Sometimes the other person needs time to think," says Gale Storm. "So give them that chance. You don't have to fill all the silences."

4. Seek input.

Asking for your loved one's input helps foster engagement and dignity. Give suggestions -- It's 84 degrees and humid, so let's wear short sleeves -- but let the elder have a say in which shirt, which light skirt.

5. Let go of expectations.

Gale points out that just because Miss Johnson has had her tea this way every morning for two weeks does not mean she will want it that way today. Alzheimer's is a disease that keeps confounding expectations. Levels of memory loss and lucidity can fluctuate greatly.

6. Be aware of your tone and facial expressions.

He or she will always respond to tone of voice or facial expression -- the very things a well-meaning but stressed caregiver might overlook. Even if you have to fake it till you make it, try to keep an encouraging tone to your voice and smile.

7. Know when to walk away.

If a situation has become combative or overwhelming, take a deep breath and step away (making sure the situation is safe to leave, of course). As Gale notes, "Taking three minutes to go into the rest room is a perfectly reasonable thing to do."

Marki Flannery is president of Partners In Care, the largest licensed home care services agency in the greater New York City area. This feature was originally posted on Huffington Post. To read more of her great, wise articles, go to Marki Flannery's Huffington Post page.

Reprint with permission of Richard Rothstein, vnsyn.org, the parent company of Partners in Care.

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