Oct 8, 2012

Everything I Know About Alzheimer's Disease

And then I had an idea – I shot a 9-second video of my teenage daughter (and my father’s only grandchild) asking her grandpa to please take his medicine.

By Bob Donna Giovannetti
Alzheimer's Reading Room

By Walter Minchew
Everything I know about Alzheimer’s disease comes from two places; the internet and our day-to-day lives caring for my father.

I helped Maryland DPS officers find my father through the Silver Alert program that I discovered through various searches on the internet (see my story My Dad – Missing and Found on this website).

The very first Christmas after my father was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I gave him an iPod classic loaded with his favorite music and a player that would allow him to play the iPod through stereo speakers. I did this because I read story after story on the internet about how music improves the lives of people with Alzheimer’s.

The stories were 100% accurate – today, almost three years later – my dad takes daily solace in his music.

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The following father’s day I gave my father a dartboard and darts because in the late 70’s and early 80’s he was a competitive dart thrower. I had read a post on this website about Alzheimer’s patients finding joy in old habits/hobbies. The article was right – he loved it and while he can’t put the flights on the darts on by himself, he can still throw fairly accurately.

The next Christmas, I read a story about how mementos and photos make Alzheimer’s patients happy. I bought my father a Kodak Pulse electronic frame – like many electronic frames, this one cycles through pictures but the beauty of the Pulse is you can instantaneously upload pictures online, from your smart phone or directly to the frame. He loves it and often talks to the images as they cycle through the frame’s display.

This past father’s day I bought my father – who, in his entire life, had zero interest in any kind of art – a set of oil paints, paint brushes, canvasses and an easel. He and has since completed two masterpieces.

Recently my mother was at her wit’s end because she couldn’t get my father to take his medicine. Every morning and every evening she was spending hours trying to convince him. He was getting angry and she was getting more and more frustrated and despondent because it was so frustrating. My father has five cardiac stents so many of the medications he takes are critical to his survival.

I talked to my mother for a long time one night when she was completely done, angry, frustrated and feeling guilty for the way she was reacting to the frustration. We went through possible solutions I had found on the internet and either she had tried them or they weren’t viable. I hung up as frustrated as she was.

And then I had an idea – I shot a 9-second video of my teenage daughter (and my father’s only grandchild) asking her grandpa to please take his medicine. The first morning she showed him the video and asked him to take his medicine. He got angry and left the room. But about 30 minutes later he asked her where those little things were and . . . he took his medicine! We are now on day four of the miracle video and he is now asking to take his medicine in the morning and at night.

What a blessing my sweet girl is to all of us – I’m hoping this idea works for you and for other frustrations you encounter in your Alzheimer’s World.

My Dad Missing and Found

Donna Giovannetti is Director of Marketing and Broker Relations at Diversified Lenders Inc. in Lubbock, Texas. Her father, Walter, suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room