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Student TXT

DeHaan, Julie; Friesen, Pamela K.

doi: 10.1097/CNJ.0b013e318276cd04
Department: Student TXT

Be Joyful Always! Alzheimer's Tips

Julie DeHaan and Pamela K. Friesen are affiliated with the Department of Nursing at Bethel University, St. Paul, MN.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Be Joyful Always

by Julie DeHaan



Giggling. As I listened to handoff report, I finally deciphered the sound coming from one of my patient's rooms. She was giggling. “Curious,” I thought, and turned my attention back to my co-worker.

I began my rounds and fell into the rhythm of caring for patients. The patient's room from which I had heard the giggling was my last assessment as I started off the afternoon. “Ms. Giggle's,” an elderly lady with Alzheimer's, almost ready for discharge after a flare-up of heart failure, was quiet when I entered the room. As soon as she saw me however, she smiled and the giggling began in earnest. Ms. Giggle's cooperated with my every request, giggling her way through the assessment and providing me with a challenge of listening to heart and lung sounds between giggles. By the time I finished my assessment, I was smiling. Her giggles were contagious.

As the shift progressed, I noticed that everyone who exited Ms. Giggle's room left smiling. She giggled through physical therapy, through occupational therapy, through evening cares, even giggled through her subcutaneous Heparin injection. Interestingly, each team member was impacted by his or her interaction with Ms. Giggle's, although she never spoke a word.

Reflecting on my patient, I thought about the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus,” (NIV). Despite my patient's dementia, she positively affected all who came in contact with her.

Do I do that? Despite my circumstances, do I rejoice? Do I pray continually? Do I remember to be thankful in all circumstances? When others come in contact with me, how do I affect them?

As Christian nursing students, nurses, and instructors, are we striving to do God's will for us? Daily we have opportunities to touch others' lives, often those whose circumstances are far from ideal. By choosing to honor the command to be joyful always, pray continually, and be thankful in all circumstances, we demonstrate our love and trust in God and honor him through our actions.

What kind of impact do you have?

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Goodbye and Hello

It has been a privilege to work with the Student TXT column since its beginning 5 years ago. Two of us (Maureen Juarez and Bernita Missal) are stepping down from writing Student TXT with mixed feelings of gratitude for these years with students and sadness to leave. Pamela Friesen will continue and be joined by Julie DeHaan as authors of this page.

We hope that Student TXT has helped nursing students spiritually and encouraged them as they have progressed in their nursing education and become professional nurses. May God bless and keep you future nurses.

We leave this verse with our readers, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen!” 2 Peter 3:18, NIV.

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Alzheimer's Communication Tips

The Alzheimer's Society has compiled numerous tips for healthcare professionals caring for persons with Alzheimer's disease. Listed here are tips regarding communication. To view the other tips regarding eating, drinking, bathing, incontinence, as well as other topics, visit

  • Minimize distractions (such as the television, other conversations, etc.)
  • Maintain eye contact at their level
  • Be aware of body language—yours and theirs
  • Speak clearly and calmly with short, simple sentences; avoid complex questions
  • Wait for patients to process information, they may need more time to respond
  • Listen carefully, word-finding can become difficult
  • Don't contradict or argue with the patient regarding a statement you know to be untrue
  • Treat the patient like an adult, don't patronize him/her.
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