When I first started working with people who have Alzheimer's disease, a mentor and friend of mine cautioned against treating these adults like little children. I think this may have been one of the best pieces of professional advice I've ever received.
Compassion and empathy- where our hearts are stirred- is good. Let those come through loud and clear as you see and respond to the struggles of loved ones or patients with memory loss. In your awareness of those challenges, however, guard against an inner attitude of placing yourself on a different level, such as a benevolent parent looking down to a confused child.
While it's often helpful to simplify the words you speak to someone with Alzheimer's or another kind of dementia, reverting to a high-pitched tone and child-like interactions is not appropriate. How you say the words is almost more important that what you say. Your loved one or patient is an adult who has a disease, and although her memory or judgment is poor, she deserves the respect and honor of an adult.
I've been pondering this thought and others like it, so I decided to format a "What Not to Do" Alzheimer's guide. For a list that includes the above pet peeve and 9 others, read What Not to Do to People with Alzheimer's: 10 Pet Peeves.
Are there others you'd like to add to the list? Feel free to comment below.