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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Can Alzheimer's Patients Read Your Face


I can say this with confidence. You have a much better chance of having a good day if you get it started with a smile.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Can Alzheimer's Patients Read Your Face
Can a person that is deeply forgetful read your face? Most of the scientific evidence says no. I agree, I don't think they can.

Think of it this way. When you know someone well can you read their face? Probably.

Sometimes when I first see a person I know well, I say what is wrong? I ask before they say a single word. How do I know something is wrong? By the look on their face.

Maybe they don't feel well, maybe they just received some bad news, or maybe they are troubled by something. I can tell this by looking at their face. I bet you can do it too.

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Every morning (after I made it to Alzheimer's World) when Dotty gave me the YouWho, I walked up to her and smiled. She smile back?

Did she read my face? Or, did she mirror my face?

I would say she mirrored my face. However, I don't think you can smile without feeling happy.

The next question. Did I make Dotty happy by smiling? I am positive on this one, the answer is yes.

I can say this with confidence. You have a much better chance of having a good day if you get it started with a smile. Then, if you can couple this with a positive experience even better.

During the last 15 months the first thing that Dotty would do after I gave her the smile was talk with Harvey. Harvey the repeat parrot. Dotty really liked Harvey. Actually she told him she loved him. So I would say with confidence that Harvey really helped us get our day off to a good start.

By the way, I think each and every action you take and make with a person that is deeply forgetful is cumulative. I strongly believe this. I strongly believe that you, the caregiver are the determining factor on how the day(s) is likely to go most of the time.

Now I want to change gears. I am getting a lot of email from people telling me they get angry and they can't help themselves.

Well the only way I know how you can help yourself is by finding your way into Alzheimer's World. By learning to look at the world from the eyes of a person that is deeply forgetful. Why are they doing what they are doing? How are they feeling. Why? How?

If you learn that Alzheimer's is a disease of the brain, then learn that this causes changes in behavior you are on the right path. When you finally accept that the behaviors that are driving you crazy are normal in Alzheimer's World you are on the right path. Why are they acting the way they are? What causes them to act "difficult"?

Once you starting looking out of the eyes of the person that is deeply forgetful you might start to understand what is happening. Next, you might understand that is it not about you, it is about caring for someone that has a brain disease.

Then you might think, gee, I wonder what would happen if I smiled right into the face and eyes of a person that is deeply forgetful. Smiled, instead of getting angry all the time. Who are you angry at anyway?

I know this. I like people that smile a lot, and I want to be around them. I don't like people that complain all the time and I don't want to be around them.

Dotty Einstein
2004

Dotty Dunce Cap
2010


Sweet Dotty
2011

Which of these Dotty's would you prefer to hang out with? Let me know.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room