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Communicating With Confused or Sensory-impaired People – Guidelines for Volunteers

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The Person who is Confused:

Chase Visit in a quiet, distraction free environment, if
possible. Simplify your topic, ask "yes," "no," or alternate choice
questions. Approach the person slowly, from the front, touch them before
talking, and use their name periodically during the conversation. Speak clearly,
not too quickly, and at eye level. Never talk about a person in their presence
without including them in the conversation, or talk to them as if they were a
child, patting them on the head or using baby talk. Some people may have short
attention spans, watch for signs of restlessness, agitation, or tuning you out,
and end the visit on a positive note with a sense of closure. Encourage
reminiscence, which can serve as a source of comfort as well as an ‘anchor’ to a
more attractive "reality". Always remember to maintain your sense of
humor, and cultivate a positive, accepting attitude.

The Visually Impaired Person:

When you enter the room, speak to the person, telling them
who you are in a normal voice. It is helpful to describe your dog, what he
looks like , his personality traits, and his body expressions or posture as the
visit progresses. Be sure to encourage the person to touch the dog, as tactile
stimulation and touch as a means of gathering information is extremely important
to the visually-impaired. Always tell the person when you are leaving, giving
him a chance to give the dog a goodbye pat.

Hearing Impaired Persons:

JakeVisit in a distraction free environment, with as little
background noise as possible. Don’t shout, instead speak in a slow clear voice,
facing the person, at eye level. Use gestures, facial expressions, and touch to
facilitate understanding. Never abruptly begin a conversation- first get the
persons attention by facing them and lightly touching arm or shoulder.