Dec 8, 2013

A Caregiver Lesson Well Learned - The Flowers

I still remember the look of fascination on her face. Just another good example of how a person living with dementia is capable of more than we can imagine. Just another example of how persons living with dementia are here.

By Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer's Reading Room

My mother, Dotty, lived with probable Alzheimer's disease for a long time.

She went to Heaven on May 25, 2012.

I continued to be amazed at how much I learned, or maybe I should say how much Dotty taught me.

Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading Room
Email:

Dotty loved flowers. She would look at them with fascination. A really, alive, look on her face.

I still remember the look of fascination on her face. Just another good example of how a person living with dementia is capable of more than we can imagine. Just another example of how persons living with dementia are here, they are living, and in the case of the flowers Dotty had a real appreciation of nature.

I would go to the flower store and buy Dotty some beautiful long stem flowers. Come home, snip the ends, put the flower food in the water, and put the flowers in the vases. We usually had two vases full of flowers.

Before I knew it, Dotty would start hacking away at the long stems on the flowers. Within a couple of days, we would go from long stem flowers to two inch stems.

This bugged me.

I tried over and over to explain the error of her ways to Dotty, it didn't work. How she was ruining those beautiful long stem flowers.

She was destroying the flowers - well that is the way it felt and seemed to me. Key caregiver word here - Me.

Dotty did another thing with the flowers that bugged me. Dotty would keep on adding more and more water to the vases. Yes, I tried to explain to her that the flowers only drink from the bottom of the stem so in effect, she was drowning them. Plus, they don't last as long if you drown them. That didn't work either.

Finally one day, and after a couple of years, as Dotty was hacking away at the flowers I said to myself, "you know what,


I bought the flowers for her and she can do what she wants with them".

Surprise, her action never bothered me again. They were her flowers -- pure and simple. I finally looked out of her eyes and realized several things.

Dotty loved those flowers.

Dotty was truly mesmerized at times by their beauty.

And most importantly, Dotty was taking care of her flowers.

Thank goodness for these revelations -- I had finally evolved as an Alzheimer's caregiver.

I finally realized that Dotty's was operating from a different frame of reference in her mind than I was. She was in a different world at time --  I named this place Alzheimer's World.

I decided to go into and  start operating within that world right along with Dotty.

In Alzheimer's World it seems like persons living with dementia tend to do things upside down and backwards. Person living with Alzheimer's just seem to do the opposite of what you might expect at times. What do you think? Do they?

The most amazing thing is that once you get to Alzheimer's World most of the "stuff" that bugged and bothered you seems so normal. The opposite seems normal.

So I guess you could say Dotty taught me how to relax and smell the roses.

Or, maybe it was that she reinforced a simple given -- you can't judge a book by its cover.

One thing for certain, I now look at the flowers in a new and different way - I'm often fascinated and mesmerized.

You could say - I am more alive and aware of the world around me. The beauty in it.

You can definitely say I learned a lot in Alzheimer's World, and most of it makes the real world as I know it a lot better.

I miss Dotty.

___________________________________
Related Content

___________________________________
BobDeMarco
+Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized expert, writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide. The ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 4,000 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Learn more about Alzheimer's and dementia, visit The Alzheimer's Reading Room Knowledge Base