Feb 25, 2010

Dotty Bingo Alzheimer's

Mom then says, we will call our new little dog Chuck.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

We get a little window here in Delray Beach each year where Dotty can go down the street to this little local community and play bingo. The have a seasonal bingo game that runs from late January until the end of March.

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I should digress and tell you that back in the day, Dotty was an avid bingo player. She went twice a week to what I call the "pro" bingo game. When you play with the pro's, no talking during the game. Its all business. The stakes are pretty high also. You can win a $150 or more on the big games. Dotty once won $500 when she won a "money jar" game.

Unfortunately, as time went by Dotty could no longer go to the pro bingo. She didn't have anyone to go with, and I couldn't let her go by herself. She could still mark the numbers, but she had no clue if she made a bingo. So someone has to be there with her to yell bingo for her.

I can get people to go to the little seasonal bingo with Dotty. So for the last few weeks she has been playing bingo. Last week she even made a bingo. Her good friend Josie yelled bingo for her.

Josie couldn't go this week she just had an operation.

But Lorraine went, so mom got to go.

In the last few weeks Josie has been telling me that mom is marking almost all the numbers while playing bingo. This made me happy.

Last night it was raining hard. so I decided to go into the clubhouse and sit next to mom for the last game (the game was almost over). While I was sitting there. I started to look at the board and check mom's cards as she was playing. The last game is a coverall. So you have to cover every number on your card to make a bingo.

As I was checking mom's card, I noticed she missed all kinds of numbers. At least six during that game. To say the least that was disconcerting. Just so you know, in days gone by I would have said to mom, you missed a number. Now, I would no longer do that.

So anyway, a woman shouts bingo and I figure that is it for the night. If you play bingo, you know they call out all the number to check and see if the woman in fact has a bingo.

So they start calling the card, and lo and behold mom starts marking the numbers she missed as if she is still playing bingo. The first interesting aspect was that they were calling them fast and mom is marking away on three cards. During the game at that place, they call the numbers very slow as they go. The second interesting thing is mom had bingo. I decided to keep my mouth shut and let it go.

When I went to get mom up from her chair she was zombie like. Could barely move and wasn't saying a word. To say she was out of it would be an accurate description. She could barely walk, even with my help.

Now last week, when she came out of bingo she was all bright eyed and bushy tailed. So last week I was amazed. Mom was just yaking away like you wouldn't believe.

This week zombie.

This is a good reflection on the life of a person suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and the Alzheimer's caregiver. The Yo-Yo ride.

I do wish that mom could play bingo every week. I am convinced it would be good for her brain and memory. Unfortunately, I can't find anyone to go to the pro bingo with her, and I don't think it would be a good idea at this stage to hire a stranger to go with her.

So let's skip up to this morning. I am more or less dreading hearing mom when she gets up. I figure she is going to be out of it.

Wrong again.

Mom gets up, starts yaking, and has a good strong voice. In fact, a strong voice that is rare at this stage of the disease. Amazing.

Was it the bingo that caused this? A few hours of mental exercise and it had a good positive effect on mom's brain once she got some rest? My guess is that is was the bingo.

The story gets a little better. My sister Joanne sent mom a red dog that sings and dances for Valentine's day. You press the dog's foot and it starts singing and dancing. I turn the dog on and its starts doing its thing. When it stops mom says, we need to get a little dog just like like this one. It's ok even if it is red like this one.

Here ya go.

Mom then says, we will call our new little dog Chuck.

My sister's husband is named Chuck. No mention of Joanne, or the real Chuck, or that we will name the dog after the real chuck. Just Chuck.

Alzheimer's and dementia. Unbelievable. There can be little doubt that mom is naming the dog Chuck because it came from Joanne, and she is making an association.

Sometimes with Alzheimer's you have to read between the lines. I get it, did you?

Before I forget. The little red dog dances and sings to the song "Do You Love Me."

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room