Jun 17, 2010

Walking, Double Pruner, and Maybe Just Maybe

Lets start with the double pruner. When Dotty woke up this morning I felt her stomach and went uh oh. I said, you need to poop. Instead of cursing me, she said, I think you are right. Wow. Thats a new one. So I said out loud, double pruner. Dotty looked at me funny.....
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Double pruner means double dose of prune juice with dose number one coming right out of the starting gate. I put the juice in front of Dotty and started handing her her pills one by one. She took a tiny sip with each pill. Then I said, bottoms up. Dotty mocked me. She started drinking and making all kinds of faces.

I really missed the boat by not getting this on video. She gets down to the end and then she says it, "poison". In case you are wondering, I didn't sing one of my prune juice songs, I am saving that for dose number two.

I am starting to get a bug up my butt about walking and the walker for Dotty. I really am getting worn out by people I know, and by people I never saw before in my life, TELLING ME, to get a walker for Dotty. Read my lips:
If Dotty needed a walker, I would get her one.
Dotty is not falling. She doesn't fall. If she doesn't fall she doesn't need a walker. I'm the one, I know, and that is it. Whew. That felt good.

Just so you know, I live in the land of the "walker". A large fraction of the people on walkers don't need them. I can tell by observing how they walk with the walker, checking out the strength in both legs, and seeing if they have a balance problem. This is going to sound harsh but it is one of the kinds of days -- many of these people on walkers are way to heavy (yeah,I chickened out). And when they start relying on the walker, they walk less and less. And they get heavier. I did not say that people do not need walkers, or that I am against walkers. I understand they are sometimes necessary.

OK, once and for all. Its not about me. Its about Dotty. She counts on me to do what is right. I want to keep her legs strong as long as is possible. This means walking. I am not in denial. If Dotty starts falling she will get the walker or whatever it is that she needs.


Now on the broader topic of walking. I said I was going to teach Dotty how to walk again. Its working. Better than I thought. So far, anyway.

I started walking backwards while holding Dotty's hands. I reminded her to stand up straight, keep her weight above her legs, and to keep her feet in front of her. As opposed to bending over or reaching for the wall.

As she improved I let go of her hands and started holding her hand while at her side. I kept saying all of the things I said above, and encouraged her to walk. She is doing it.

Next, I encouraged her to walk from the kitchen to the living room on her own. She does it. I can tell by the look on her face that she is enjoying the accomplishment. I go "nutsy" happy and give her giant doses of positive reinforcement and hugs when she does it.

The other day I wrote about music and how Brandon Ally of Boston University is finding that Alzheimer's patients can learn if you use music/song. I already kinda sorta knew this since I have been doing this for years.

So, I started singing a few days ago while Dotty and I are walking. She digs it and she walks better. Amazing. I make up the words to my own songs that are about 'walking".

Today, I tried the "hup two three song." Not like a drill sargeant, the happy camper I am version. Well, Dotty girl zoomed right down the hallway. Yeah, maybe 15 feet or so. She really moved out and she didn't lose her balance.

Is the day going to come when Dotty can make it to the car from the house all by herself? Don't know. If she doesn't, it won't be because Dotty and I didn't try.

Will Dotty make it back on to the treamill? I like to think big, and like I told you a long time ago, "don't crap on my parade". You have something positive to say, or some advice, shoot it it. You have something negative to say, keep it to yourself.

Last but not least. Today, I say to Dotty, we gotta have the Bobby D special salad some day soon. She asks what is that. I start rattling off the ingredients. Romaine lettuce, tomato, celery, carrots, sliced pear, crutons, sharp cheddar cheese, grilled chicken strips and balsamic vinaigrette.

I noticed that Dotty was writing like she was making a list for the grocery store. I laughed. Later when I was cleaning up I took a look -- holy cow.

This is what she had written on the newspaper: salad, celery, cheese, grilled chicken. The letters are exactly as written. The writing did slope down and to the right.

Go figure huh?

Now for the big question. Is Dotty going to start discussing the front page of the newspaper with me again? Don't know.

Maybe just Maybe.

Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,565 articles with more than 8,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room