Apr 30, 2012

Learning How to Use Alzheimer's World to Your Advantage

The goal is to learn how to understand, cope, and communicate with someone that is deeply forgetful.

By Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Learning How to Use Alzheimer's World to Your Advantage
My Alzheimer's Caregiver
Some of you will recall that I went away for two days in January and left Dotty with the A Team -- Jim and Ruth. Dotty did wonderfully well.

I talked to Dotty on the phone about 6 times, and she seemed happy and content. All seemed to be going well, except Ruth told me that Dotty was asking with increasing frequency where I was. This meant increasing angst.

I should mention this. When Dotty is with Jim and Ruth she is rarely alone. They talk to her and include her in on everything they do. Aha.

Dotty gets lots of attention, and Food.

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Jim and Ruth have this wonderful facility to treat Dotty the way they always have. They know what is going on, but it does not seem to affect in any way their ability to talk with her. Frankly, they act the way they always have. Aha. One thing this does is put Dotty in the WayBac machine.

When I returned in January, after a few minutes Dotty had her arms folded across her chest. A sure sign that she was upset. When a person crosses their arms while talking to you, they are shutting you out. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if it is cold, or if you feel cold you might cross your arms to warm up.

In January, Dotty pushed me away when I went to hug her. Clearly, she was upset with me. Fortunately, with some good direct communication and good attitude, I was able to bring her around in a couple of hours.

With that experience in mind, I decided to take direct action this time around.

As soon as I arrived home from New York, I went in the house and put on some shorts and a T shirt. I then hurried over to Jim and Ruth's.

I went over to Jim and Ruth's and blew right in the door. As soon as I saw Dotty I said, are you ever going to come home? Harvey and I have been patiently waiting for you to come home. Harvey told me to tell you, to come home so he has someone to talk too.

Dotty looked at me sorta bewildered. Before she knew what happened I gave her a hug and said, we need to get moving we have a big day in front of us. She wanted to know what big day? I told her don't worry we have a lot to do (note: in Alzheimer's World you don't have to explain).

We then sat around and talked to Jim and Ruth for a bit.

Once we arrived home, I took the offensive. I said to Dotty, we need to go to this store, and that store, then we need to go get something to eat. I gave her a cup of coffee and then I started yaking with Harvey.

I said: Dotty where were you? Harvey repeated: Dotty where were you?, Dotty where were you?.

I said: Dotty we missed you. Harvey repeated: Dotty we missed you, Dotty we missed you.

I said: Dotty I bet you had a good time. Harvey repeated: Dotty I bet you had a good time, Dotty I bet you had a good time.

By now Dotty started telling Harvey to shut up, and other things she usually says to him.

Next, I took Dotty for a pee. And then she laid down and went out like a light. She was sleeping away, hard. I watched her for a while. I concluded that thinking about where I was and when I was coming back really wore her out. It was noon time.

When Dotty woke up I said, wow, you were out cold. You must have had a great time. She asked, great time doing what? I said, I don't know, you were the one that was having all the fun (note: in Alzheimer's World there is no need to explain yourself).

From there we segwayed right back into our life, as if nothing had happened or changed. And, as if I was never gone.

Was I? Or, was Dotty the one that was away for two days?

And now to my point. You just have to think positive, get over into Alzheimer's World, and make it happen.

Alzheimer's World is a really good place if you want it to be.

You get to choose.

I did.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,461 articles with more than 397,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room