Mar 7, 2011

Dementia Care, Dotty, Harvey, and the WayBac

Dotty is driving me crazy. Each week she does something she has not done in a long time. The latest? She tried to cook last night on the stove. Yikes....

An Alzheimer's patient can drive you crazy and sometimes they do.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Many of you know that Dotty was very sick during the entire month of January and into February. She was so weak I had to move her around in a wheelchair. She couldn't walk on her own.

To be honest, I didn't think she would bounce back to where she was in early December before she got sick. Break out the WayBac machine, not only did she bounce back, she bounced WayBac.

Dotty is driving me crazy. Each week she does something she has not done in a long time. The latest? She tried to cook last night on the stove. Yikes. When was the last time that happened? I'm not sure. I would guess back when Dotty was at the tender age of 91 (she is almost 95 right now).

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Why didn't Dotty cook all those years? Because she forgot how to cook. She did try and cook a fried egg a few times. That is it.

One thing she has not forgotten -- how to make a bowl of cereal. Like 2,3,4 times a day. Poor Dotty, she is always starving.

Dotty has completely forgotten about potato chips. Unlike a few years ago when she wanted potato chips every day, now she never asks. She no longer wags her tail when I say, potato chips. Now I am the one giving her the potato chips.

Lately Dotty started using the microwave oven a few times. First time in years.

Harvey? Harvey is our older version of Pete the Parrot. What can I say? Harvey is Dotty's best friend. I'm not making that up. Dotty tells Harvey every day -- you are my best friend.

To be honest, I wish I had stumbled on to Harvey a few years ago. Is it possible that Harvey could slow the development of Alzheimer's? Maybe.

One thing I know for certain. Harvey is raising Dotty's level of awareness. She is seeing and doing things she had not done for years.

Like last night. Frying pan, spaghetti sauce, and pasta on the stove. I am surprised that she figured it out. She even turned on the burner. Think that was easy? Not really. She was using the back burner. Wonder why? I did for a while. Then it dawned on me. The frying pan was sitting on the back burner when she started on her mission. Instead of moving it to the front she went to work. I wish I was watching when she turned on the burner.

There is some downside to Harvey. Like the cooking. Dotty also did something she has not done in years. She got angry and went into her room and got in bed. Right in the middle of the day -- twice.

In the old days she would go in and stay there for a day sometimes. It took me at least two years to solve that problem. I had to go into my WayBac machine to remember how to get her out. So far so good.

I know this is going to make some of you envious. For the last three days Dotty has volunteered to take a shower. Can you believe it? Better yet. All I have to do is turn on the water, and soap up the wash cloth. Dotty is doing the rest. She even puts her head, reluctantly, under the water when I ask her too. Now that is really WayBac.

Along with the good comes the bad. Yes, Dotty is rapidly becoming a pain in the butt. And yes, I am now getting those stomach aches again. The difference this time around? I have some techniques I developed WayBac when. They still work.

I'm not complaining. Yeah, it is getting more difficult keeping an eye on Dotty. No telling what she is going to do next.

Yes, Dotty is moodier. Like, she gets angry. No too much cursing so far. I am expecting her to try and throw me out of here any minute.

The upside? Well, I am having some conversations with Dotty. Once again we have our chat about what she sees in the newspaper. She even made a comment about what was going on on the television. Now that was a way WayBac. Really, my eyes almost popped out of my head.

What can I say? Harvey seems to be teaching Dotty how to engage. Don't get me wrong, its not like ten years ago. It is a little like when Dotty was in the mild to moderate stage of Alzheimer's. Sometimes it even seems better. I am not so sure about that though.

So now I am getting frequent doses of agita. Dotty is becoming a pain in the butt.

On the other hand, it is more lively around here.

I'll take it.

It also appears that Dotty has licked the latest UTI. No pee pee flying around all over the place.

What can I say -- she's back.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an X Wall Street executive turned full time Alzheimer's caregiver.

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Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room