Apr 20, 2013

Dementia Care and the Smile

The smile is a powerful tool in life. A powerful nonverbal communication tool.

By +Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room 


Many of you are new so I'll tell you this. My mother, Dotty, didn't laugh or smile for two years and it was killing me. Tearing my heart and stomach right out of my body.

This happened during the first years that I was caring for Dotty.

Fortunately, we eventually reached the point where Dotty was smiling with greater and greater frequency.

Guess what else happened?

She became kinder and gentler.

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The smile is a powerful tool in life. A powerful nonverbal communication tool.

You can convey a powerful message with a smile. And, you don't need to say a single word to get the message across.

The way I used my smile to bond with Dotty evolved over time.

For example, in the first few years Dotty often woke up with a dull, unhappy look on her face. I started putting my arm around her in the morning, and I put my head on her head. Then I got around in front of her, bent down a bit to get on her level and smiled.

As the bond between us became stronger the first action in the morning evolved. I started approaching Dotty from right in front, held her hands, bent down and smiled, I waited as she smiled back.

During the last three years, Dotty was mostly happy when she woke up. Her voice was stronger, and she started communicating with Harvey and me as soon as she woke up.

Here is the most important part -- Dotty sometimes smiled at me first as I took her hands. I always smiled back.

This explains in part why the last 3 years of the caregiving effort were much better than the previous five years that preceded them.

You might be pleasantly surprised by what starts happening if you remember to smile ever chance you get.

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Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized Influencer, speaker, and expert in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community Worldwide. The Alzheimer's Reading Knowledge Base contains more than 4,600 articles.  Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Search more than 4,600 original articles on Alzheimer's and dementia in the Alzheimer's Reading Room Knowledge Base