Jul 1, 2016

Alzheimer Caregivers Reap the Benefits of Socialization and Getting Out

It was bench type seating and shortly after I had ordered our food a group approached and asked if they could share our table....Mum said yes and inside I was dreading what might happen...

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Socialization is good for people living with Alzheimer's and their caregiver.

Reader HKS posted the following comment under the article Alzheimer's Disease Tip Communication and Socialization (Part 2).

HKS wrote:
I try to take my mum out to eat a couple of times a week. I have found she does not enjoy the sterile atmosphere of fancy restaurants but far prefers more casual places and even some of the ubiquitous burger chains (which I don't think she ever in her life ate at prior to AD). The gentle buzz of families about there normal lives seems very comforting to her.

I used to try and avoid busy places thinking it would be too distressing to mum (and if I'm honest also a fear of embarrassment). A while ago I took mum out and had not realised it was a public holiday Monday - the cafe I selected was much busier than it normally is, but as luck would have a table opened up just as i was thinking of leaving.

It was bench type seating and shortly after I had ordered our food a group approached and asked if they could share our table.

Can how you think and what you believe affect your Alzheimer's caregiving effort?

Mum said yes and inside I was dreading what might happen.

Actually we had a nice meal and the holiday chat of the other group and their relaxed state seemed to relax mum. She seemed happier and ate more than she would when we sat alone in more expensive restaurants, where I would labor to keep a conversation going and struggle to get her to eat much.

I found this comment interesting and enlightening.

Like HKS I started by taking my mother to "nice" restaurants. It did not work the way I expected.

Then I thought,

we need to start living our life the way we always had.

This in part explains how I came to decide on the Banana Boat -- Dotty always liked the BB. The BB supplied bright light, easy to eat food (think use the fingers), and an opportunity for both of us to socialize. They also have live music.

Here is how it looks at the Banana Boat.

Alzheimer s Caregivers Reap the Benefits of Socialization and Getting Out
That's Dotty in the sunglasses, at the Banana Boat.

Over the years, I heard all kinds of excuses from Alzheimer's caregivers on why they can't take someone suffering from Alzheimer's out in public.

One big excuse, they will eat with their hands. Took me about two seconds to solve that problem -- eat food that you can eat with your hands. I suppose HKS might have worried about that one. Or, maybe worried about how her mother might act; or, about the look on here mums' face.

I've heard Alzheimer's caregivers complain, they don't like to be in crowded places.

Dotty did seem a little disconcerted when we walked in a crowded place. Yep, I worried about that one also. Until I finally figure out that she was worried that they were going to run her over while walking, not about the crowd.

Dotty always liked people and that never went away - or so I finally learned.

Dotty often stops dead when someone comes walking toward her. Not scared of the person, scared there is not enough room for both of them (maybe depth perception). Dotty often stops dead while driving the cart at Walmart if someone starts coming at her.

Once we started living our life the way we always had at the BB, Dotty started to revert more or less to her old self.

How to Get Answers To Your Questions About Alzheimer's and Dementia

One Friday night she got into a wild and crazy yak with some 35 year old guy that was sitting next to her. He was really amazed. So was I. Most of what she told him never happened.

I guess you have to decide how you want to live.

What I am trying to say here is, you have to choose a lifestyle as an Alzheimer's caregiver. Key word is choose.

Here is a quote from a research study that I read that certainly impacted my decision making when it came to Dotty and Alzheimer's disease.
A lack of social stimulation is harmful for people with dementia. It exaggerates the impact of the condition. It can lead to depression and it encourages people to withdraw into themselves.
More or less that was what was happening before Dotty and I decided to live.

Communication, socialization, and bright light are on my list of five things you must do or consider in order to succeed as an Alzheimer's caregiver.

Related Content

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What is the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Test Your Memory for Alzheimer's (5 Best Memory Tests)

Communicating in Alzheimer's World

The Seven Stages of Alzheimer's


Bob DeMarco is the Founder and Editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized influencer, speaker, and expert in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community Worldwide. The ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 5,000 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

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