Bob DeMarco Alzheimer's Reading Room

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Alzheimer's Whisperer


She walked right up to me, closer than you would expect a stranger to get. My mother clearly got disconcerted because she started to move and asked, where is the car? She wanted to bolt.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room


The Alzheimer's Whisperer
Yesterday when we were leaving Brain Matters Research in Delray Beach, a woman walked in with her husband for an appointment. I can't say for certain if she was suffering from Alzheimer's disease but something was going on with her brain. She had the walk.

At the time, I was standing at the front desk waiting for some information I had requested. My mother was standing right next to me.

When the man walked into the back, the woman got up out of her chair and started walking straight toward me. She was smiling. I smiled back at her.

She walked right up to me, closer than you would expect a stranger to get. My mother clearly got disconcerted because she started to move and asked, where is the car? She wanted to bolt.

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At the time, I was holding my mother's hand. I switched to my arm around her shoulder, bent down a bit, and whispered in her ear -- hold on, its ok.

I then looked the woman right back in the eye and said, how are you today? She said in a very low voice, I don't know. I then asked her her name. She didn't know. She just kept smiling and looking me right in the eyes.

She continued to look me right in the eyes, and I looked right back at her. I thought to myself, she is in there. More than a feeling, I am certain she was in there. What is she trying to communicate? I guess I'll never know.

Later in the day, I began to think about the encounter.

I realized that when she came up to me I switched into Alzheimer's world seamlessly. I didn't need to think about it. It just happened. No deep breaths, no mental reminder.

I know I switched because the first thing that happened was I was using my Alzheimer's world voice. Lower, calmer, and confident.
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Oddly, instead of getting uptight, I was calm. I wanted to talk to her.

Unfortunately before I could get into it, her husband came back and informed her she was supposed to be sitting in the chair.

I didn't take a hard look at him because I was going for the connection with his wife. He was a bit agitated, I could tell from his voice. Not mean.

I suppose his wife approaches strangers often, and the strangers probably get uptight. This probably makes him uptight. Easy to understand.

Wonder what I was going to do next? Well this even surprised me. I was going to hold her hand, lean over, and whisper something in her ear.

You can guess what I was going to say, but I am not telling right now.

As I write this, I am still wondering what her name is? I really wished I had asked her husband. Why do I want to know her name? I can't answer that right now. Maybe its a new new thing.

I thought about this encounter off and on since yesterday.

The whisper.

Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The ARR knowledge base contains more than 3,811 articles with more than 306,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room