Jul 7, 2010

Learning to Deal with a Person Suffering from Alzheimer's Disease -- Barbara Pursley

By Barbara Pursley

In the very early stages of my mother's illness, she was angry, hard to communicate with and would often repeat herself.

In 1993, when she was first was diagnosed, I knew NOTHING about Alzheimer's so I attended as many Alzheimer's support groups that I could find and also became involved with the Alzheimer's Association where I gained a wealth of information.

First I learned, to listen instead of asking questions. My mother had lost her reasoning ability and there was no reason for me to agitate her or myself. I became patient when she would repeat herself countless times because I knew that the repetition was a symptom of her disease.

In the beginning, she was angry and would say, "My head's not right." I would listen and she would be comforted when I told her, "Mom we're going to see the doctor and I know he can help you."

She was angry that she had to take medicine and would put up a BIG fight. Then, one day I tried non-verbal communication. I walked up to her with my right palm up which had her medicine and held a glass of water in the left hand. I didn't say one word and she took her medication without argument.

I never thought of my mother as a victim.

I thought of her as a person who had unfortunately inherited the disease of Alzheimer's. I write about all of these experiences in my book, "Embracing the Moment: An Alzheimer's Memoir. Mother was sick for 11 years.

Barabara attended Santa Monica College, studied photography, and worked as a commercial photographer before returning to Texas to care for her mother. Barbara also taught journal writing to women in Texas rehabilitation facilities. She put her God inspired journal entries and photographs into book form in 2009.

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Original content Barbara Pursley, the Alzheimer's Reading Room