Nov 27, 2011

Dotty, Thanksgiving, and Fear

I understand why patients living with Alzheimer's love baby dolls and toys like Harvey, they are real to them. I suppose this explains why Dotty is afraid of the lion, I guess she thinks he might eat her.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Dotty, Thanksgiving, and Fear
Dorothy DeMarco
at age 95
Some of you asked so I thought I would write about it.

Thanksgiving turned out to be a good day for Dotty, and for me.

Dotty woke up in a good mood, and with good awareness. We were off to a good start.

On Thanksgiving day we went over to our neighbors, Jim and Ruth's. It was just the four of us, so it made it easy to move Dotty around and I didn't have to worry about any sensory overload.

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Dotty was in a good mood and was chatting away. Both Jim and Ruth have a wonderful facility to talk with Dotty the way they always have. This facility, more or less, sends Dotty into the past and creates a nice secure atmosphere and environment.

Getting to a good place on every Holiday is important. It allows everyone, including the caregiver, to have a relaxing, stress free day. Right in the sweet spot, the comfort zone.

Jim and Ruth just came back to Delray Beach a few weeks ago for the Florida season. They did make one remark that caught my attention.

They both say that they think Dotty looks better this year than she did last year. In fact, they are quite surprised by this.

I think there are a number of reason why this is true.

The first and most important is that Dotty has not had one of those nasty illnesses that cause her to become bed ridden and out of it, since last February. Somehow, we are making it through the year without any real big setbacks on the health front. As a result, Dotty doesn't look worn out, or dulled out from illness right now. We have had some minor problems and setbacks during the year as many of you know.

As I write this, I am surprised. During the last two prior years Dotty was very sick for a minimum of ten weeks each year. For those of you that have been around you will remember my worry. Hmm, 95 years old. It is really hard to comprehend Dotty and her health sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining.

A second reason that Dotty is looking better is that she weighs about 8 pounds less than she did this time last year. We all look better when we lose weight if we are overweight to start out with. Gotta laugh, Dotty 95 years old and looks better. I have to admit on a real good day Dotty doesn't look a day over 85. LOL. That is what I tell her by the way. Actually, I think she probably looks younger than 85 in the picture at the top. What do you think?

Dotty did eat and eat on Thanksgiving day. Why do people want to encourage a 95 year old to eat more. Especially when I ask them not to? Oh well, you can't stop them. I know they are just being kind. I have to accept it. After eating everything in site for over an hour, Dotty was encouraged to eat the last biscuit as the table was being cleared. She happily obliged. Then she stuffed in a piece of pumpkin pie for good measure.

I should mention that my contribution to the dinner was homemade biscuits (not those things that pop out of can, or you can get in the bakery section of the super market), the new and improved Bobby D green beans (cooked slowly in a cast iron frying pan, not so secret ingredient bacon), and San Pellegrino water. Pellegrino water is very refreshing with a slice of orange, lemon, or lime.

And now for the highlight of the Thanksgiving holiday.

I was out shopping and I saw these cute very soft stuffed animals. I decided to buy two for Dotty. I figured I would give her one immediately, and wrap the other one up for Christmas as a stuffer.

One of the stuffed animals was a lion with long white whiskers, and the other was a white bunny rabbit. I decided to give the lion to Dotty first. I held out the lion and said look mom, and then the unexpected happened -- Dotty freaked, the lion scared her. As I held it out to her she actually shreaked and put her hands up in front of her face, and told me to get it away from her. She was clearly afraid of it.

The lion scared her. At first I thought, I'll take it back. Then I thought, no, I'll reintroduce it later. So I tried again the next morning.

I started about ten feet away. I said, look mom our new pet, as I stroked our new lion. Then I slowly started walking toward her as I petted our new friend now named, tada, Dorothy. When I was close to her I held it out. Well Dotty didn't freak, but she did tell me to get it away from her. She doesn't like the new Dorothy lion. I changed gears and told her, Harvey needs a new friend, so we got him Dorothy to hang out with. Dotty asked Harvey if he liked Dorothy. Harvey answered he did. Dotty then questioned Harvey about his love for her. Yikes.

In the end, I put the new Dorothy over near Harvey. Each time Dotty sits down near Harvey and Dorothy I ask Dotty if she likes Dorothy? So far she says the same thing every time. No, its ugly. So far she won't pet Dorothy, and she won't let Dorothy near her. I might have to re-gift Dorothy the lion.

I understand why patients living with Alzheimer's love doll babies and toys like Harvey, they are real to them. I suppose this explains why Dotty is afraid of the lion, I guess she thinks he might eat her.

If you want to find out Dotty's reaction to the furry white rabbit I bought for her, you'll have to hang around until Christmas time.

Dotty is also back to doing some dishes (water only) and opening the front door and looking around. The only sad thing is that she can no longer make it down to see Jim and Ruth on her own. We'll see what we can do about that.

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Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,101 articles with more than 452,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room