Jul 6, 2015

Toy Parrot Improves Mood and Behavior in Alzheimer's Patient

Can a simple toy improve the behavior, mood, and level of awareness in a person living with Alzheimer's or a related dementia?

Talking Parrot Improves Mood and Behavior in Alzheimer's Patient

This article is about Alzheimer's disease, Pete the Repeat Parrot, and my mother Dotty who lived with Alzheimer's disease.
He might not look like much in the image (see image at the bottom of this article); but he is powerful and will provide you with hours of stress free respite. 
Most caregivers assume this parrot won't work for them. In almost every case, over 900 caregivers, it worked. 
You might pay about $20 for one hour of respite care. You can buy this parrot for around $20. 
By my own estimate this parrot provided me with about 3,000 hours of respite care at a cost of less than one cent (.006) per hour.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I'll start by mentioning, I tried to determine if their was any other variable that could be causing the behavior and mood improvement in my mother. As far as I could tell, the only thing that changed was the purposeful introduction of  Pete the Repeat Parrot into our lives.

For those of you that know me from this blog, you know that I was always trying to do things that improved my mother's behavior and interaction with others and me.

For the most part, everything I tried came from simple observations, or from something that I read and then reconnoitered to make it work in an Alzheimer's filled environment.

In the case of Pete the Parrot is was part design but mostly luck.

Please read this article also -

The Best Alzheimer's Caregiver Tool of Them All, Harvey

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My mother loved greeting cards that sang and/or shook. We had them all over the place.

She picked them up at random and they fascinated her every time. 

I particularly liked the way she looked at them, she seemed to be trying to understand -- how does it do it?

My mother also loved singing, dancing, stuffed animals. They delighted her.

When she was delighted so was I. I bet you understand.

Before Christmas for some reason I can't explain, I decided to break out our Pete the Parrot (after 4 years). I couldn't find the parrot. So I ordered a new one from Amazon. By the time the parrot arrived Dotty was sick.

Finally after 5-6 weeks Dotty was getting better. I put the new Pete on the kitchen table and turned him on whenever Dotty sat down.

Not only did she talk to the parrot, she also sang to the parrot. She also started to tell the parrot how she was feeling. Like when she had a headache. These conversations started to become more meaningful. Like when she told the parrot she was bored and wanted to go out.

To watch a video of Dotty talking to Harvey go here -- Video Pete the Parrot Tip, Dotty Talks to Harvey

It was clear to me that Dotty seemed happier. More alive.

And then, "more there." 

I was constantly on the search for "more there."

And then it happened.

I left the parrot on by accident. Dotty managed to wag her way up to the kitchen table and started talking to the parrot. I started listening from afar. 20 minutes, 30 minutes, then I ran up and made a podcast. Dotty didn't stop. 45 minutes, an hour. I was shocked.

Dotty was clearly more alive. Her voice was stronger. She was laughing on and off. She was clearly happier, more engaging and more aware. 

I am not saying that Dotty was the same as she was ten years ago, well before her diagnosis. I am saying that she was as engaged as I had seen her in years. More so, to be honest.

I made a simple decision. I decided to leave the parrot on at all times. Dotty spent hours talking to the parrot.

Then things I couldn't believe started to happen. Dotty started doing things she hadn't done in years.

She started waking up early in the morning (every day). Opening up the front door and bringing in the newspaper (as early as 6:30 AM). Not such a big deal until she did this -- she started turning on the light to read. This really blew me away. Dotty often reads in the almost dark, and usually turns lights off, rarely on. And, never on to read.

There are a long list of things that changed. Things she had not done in years to many years.
  • She took the trash out of the basket and tied the top of the trash bag.
  • She used the microwave oven.
  • She started making her own breakfast, two to three time a day (cereal).
  • She started singing, every day.
  • She started commenting on the what was happening on the television.
  • She took out the insert in her panties, and once actually got the new one in (pee pee pad).
  • She opened a tin of anchovies all by herself, not a simple task.
  • I put a new jar of olives out where she could see them to see what would happen, she opened the jar (not an easy task) and ate the olives.
  • Not only did she stack up the dishes when they were clean, something she had been doing for years, she put them away in the cabinet, something she has not done in years. Frankly, my eyes almost popped out of my head.
There are changes in Dotty's mood and behavior.
  • She started initiating conversation. 
  • She woke up smiling and laughing in the morning.
  •  She was more alert in the morning for sure.
  • And, she was eager to talk to Harvey.
She was in a better mood most of the time, not all the time as I am sure you understand.

Her behavior improved in a simple sense -- she showed signs of behavior instead of dullness.

She was spending less time napping. 

Why? Because she was talking to the parrot instead of laying around. She was spending less time "vegging out".

We didn't  have a problem with sleeping. However, this parrot might help you with that problem.

At least 500 readers of the Alzheimer's Reading Room  bought a parrot after reading about Harvey.

Once you get the parrot and start using this tool we would like you to tell us about your own experience.

Toy Improves Mood and Behavior in Alzheimer's Patient
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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.