Apr 23, 2011

To Gift or Not to Gift

We know as Alzheimer's develops a person losses their ability to remember. Do we know if they lose their ability to feel?
By Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room 

I read several stories on the Internet about Alzheimer's caregivers and gifts to persons living with dementia.


It appears some Alzheimer's caregivers decide not to gift. Their reasoning is easy to understand, they believe the person suffering from Alzheimer's won't remember the gift, or won't appreciate the gift like they did in days gone by.

So why bother?

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I believe, as many of you know, that there is more going on in the brain of someone living Alzheimer's than might be apparent on the surface.

How do you know for certain that the person living with dementia won't appreciate a gift?

How do you know for certain that it doesn't make them feel good, wanted, and appreciated?

How do you know?

We know as Alzheimer's develops a person losses their ability to remember.

Do we know for certain that they lose their ability to feel?

I can understand the sad feelings an Alzheimer's caregiver experiences when they give a gift to someone suffering from Alzheimer's, and then can't ask them five minutes later if they liked their gift.

What gift?

If you show them the gift they might ask, where did that come from?

This has happened with my mother Dotty. I think she was trying to assimilate the information in her brain. She couldn't.

However, sometimes she smiles and says something like -- Joanne is a good daughter. I like and enjoy the feeling that comes along with that response. Note, it makes me feel good. My mother is smiling when she responds, so I have to assume it makes her feel good.

I wrote about how two circles -- the Alzheimer's caregiver and the person suffering from Alzheimer's -- need to reconnect after Alzheimer's strikes.

There are two circles. The caregiver. The patient.

Sometimes it helps if the caregiver circle looks beyond the obvious. For example, do you feel guilt for not giving the gift? Feel uneasy about the decision not to gift? What exactly are you feeling? Are you feeling?

In life you try and find ways to connect with another person. In Alzheimer's, I believe it is a good idea to do the same thing -- as often as you can.

Put your forehead on the forehead of someone suffering from Alzheimer's and say something nice. Say it in a low reassuring voice. Don't be afraid to put the palm of your hand on them while doing this. Don't do this one time, do it repeatedly in the days and months ahead.

Feel anything? Any intersection of the circles?

Get back to me.

Related article -- Alzheimer's World -- Two Circles Trying to Intersect

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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. The ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 4,000 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room