Sep 17, 2015

Why the "We" Approach to Alzheimer's Caregiving Works Best

I was talking to someone about Alzheimer's disease. After a while the woman said to me, I have never heard any Alzheimer's caregiver use the word "we" all the time like you do....

I have never heard any Alzheimer's caregiver use the word "we" all the time like you do....
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I asked, what do you mean?

She said when you refer to Dotty and your Alzheimer's caregiving you don't say she does this, and she does that.


You say, we do this and we do that. 

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I then understood what she meant.

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For example. I say, this is how we solved this problem.

Her point being that I solved the problem but I still said "we" solved the problem. Well it seems to me that when Dotty was peeing all over herself -- we had a problem. And, it seems to me that we solved this problem together. Granted, I identified the solution.

My point here. Dotty would have identified the solution on her own if she could have. She couldn't.

So we did it. I guess you could say I lent her my brain. 

Or maybe, we shared one brain.

I know that my major operant philosophy when it came to caring for Dotty was simple and straight forward
We live our life the way we always had.
Sure there are constraints, and the number of constraints continue to grow.

For example. I didn't think it would be a good idea to take Dotty up to the top of the Jungfrau. But, I would have done it if it made sense to so so. Or, if I thought we could benefit greatly from the experience we would have done it.

Odd. Now I am thinking, maybe we should have done it.

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One day in the late afternoon I was feeling in a state of angst. Why? Because I hadn't taken Dotty out into the bright light, and it was going to get dark soon. I didn't want to go two days without bright light. This explains why I was felt a sense of urgency.

I guess you could say "we" had reached the point where bright light was an important part of each day. You could go further and say, "we" now needed the bright light -- both of us.

Things really change when you make it to Alzheimer's World. The way you think changes, the way you feel changes, and most importantly, you start to believe in yourself.

When you make it there you substitute the word "We" for "You" and "I".

No more - you you you, no more - I I I, you become a team.

It seems obvious to me that Alzheimer's caregiving is a "we" experience.

We had to do things together to succeed-- Dotty and me. If we didn't, Dotty would not have done much of anything. And that leads to disaster.

When it came to our daily life "we" did lots of things to make the day better. If "we" don't -  I can promise you this -- it is going to be one crappy day.

It seemed to me that Dotty and I were in this together. 

She was still Dotty, but she was a bit different.

I went into Alzheimer's World and I guess you could say, it made me a bit different. It enabled me to understand, cope, and communicate with a person living with dementia.

When you get use to the difference, and accept the difference, things seem normal instead of different. Think about it.

How do you put the "we" into Alzheimer's caregiving? By coming to the understanding that the person you always knew is still here -- they are just a bit different (each day).

They are, however, still made of flesh and blood just like you and me.

Are you going to go out into the bright light today? Are you going to read the newspaper together? Get some exercise together? Share a banana?

We did. We did a bunch of things each day as a part of a routine. We became a team. A team that fought off the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease

What about You?

Your thoughts and reactions?

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 5,000 articles. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room