Alzheimer's Reading Room
Wonderful people.My name is Bob and I am the sole caregiver for my mother who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.
I have a vivid image of the look on mom's face and of us dancing. I will have that image in my mind forever. This is the kind of moment that really knocks home to me why I am here with mom. Moments like this help keep me energized and focused.
One of the biggest problems I face as a caregiver is keeping my mother socialized. If it was up to her she would sit around all day in the dark, rarely speaking. If you have experienced this you know how really disconcerting this can be.
About two years ago, I decided to take my mother out to the Banana Boat in Boynton Beach. The Banana Boat is an outdoor restaurant on the Intercoastal Waterway. The "Boat" has an outdoor restaurant and an outdoor bar where you can eat and listen to live music. Since my mother rarely speaks when we go out to dinner, I decided we would sit at the bar and eat. This would insure we had movement and people talking around us.
My mother ordered chicken wings and french fries, one of her favorites meals. My mother's eyes almost popped out of her head when she saw "a big basket of french fries". She was delighted. We had a very good time that night and I decided to do it the next Friday night. Pretty soon we were doing it most Friday nights.
After a few weeks, women started to come over and talk to us. The attraction was an older man with his elderly mother; they wanted to say how nice it was to see us. Keep in mind my mother was 90 at the time. Of course, they were saddened to hear that mom was suffering from Alzheimer's. Soon both women and men were coming over to talk.
I should point out that the Banana Boat is the kind of place that attracts many of the same people week-in-week-out. Since we go around 6:30 we catch the happy hour crowd many of whom stay until 8.
After a while, a small group of people started saving a chair for my mother as they were expecting us. The first time we missed a Friday one woman asked for our phone number and told me they were worried about "mom" when we didn't show up. So they wanted to be able to check if we hadn't told them we wouldn't be coming the next week. Now we call to let them know if we are not coming.
As time went on, our little group of friends started to get bigger and this turned out to be a "God send". Each week, one by one these wonderful people come up and start talking to my mother. She really enjoys this and her attitude perks up right away. They treat her just like everyone else and talk to her like she is one of the gang. This year a group got together and took my mother to the casino to play slot machines on her birthday. I cannot put into words how much this meant to mom and me.
My mother loved to dance. So, each and every week I asked her if she wanted to dance. Our new friends would also ask mom to dance--men and women alike. I could tell that mom wanted to dance but she always said, no. Mom is no longer confident around crowds or people she doesn't know, so while her instinct is to dance her brain is telling her no. I can tell you mom was never shy about dancing and she is a good dancer.
Last Friday night, I asked mom if she wanted to dance. She said, no. But, I could tell she really did want to dance this time. When we were getting ready to leave, and as mom stood up, I started dancing with her right on the spot. She was shaking it a little bit and had a big smile on her face. By the time we were done people had tears in their eyes and smiles as big as big could be. Wonderful people.
I have a vivid image of the look on mom's face and of us dancing. I will have that image in my mind forever. This is the kind of moment that really knocks home to me why I am here with mom and situations like this really help me to keep at it.
I can assure you it was really a wonderful moment in time.
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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,300 articles with more than 9,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room