Apr 18, 2011

The 93 Percent Solution to Alzheimer's Problems

I understand how difficult it can be to be an effective Alzheimer's caregiver. Unlike many that write about Alzheimer's care, I was YOU before YOU became YOU.

By Alzheimer's Reading Room

I understand how difficult it can be to be an effective Alzheimer's caregiver.

I'm always interested when I hear an Alzheimer's caregiver say, it won't work for us. In other words, something I suggest as a solution won't work. Might work for me, won't work for you.

When I read these words I wonder to myself, how do you know? You tried something for a few days or a week? A month? How long did you try to implement a solution to a problem?

Let's be honest. Weren't you convinced before you started that it wouldn't work?

Weren't you looking for evidence (the reasons) why it wouldn't work? As soon as it didn't work like magic, did you give up?

Let me ask you. You have something better to do than find the solutions to problems that are driving you nuts?

It took me more than a year to convince Dotty to drink prune juice, once I found the time to work on it actively.

Here is a simple example of how I think and feel while trying to solve a problem with Dotty.

Here are some of the things I wrote (said) about solving the dreaded bowel movement problem.

"I knew the solution to the dreaded bowel movement problem for years. I couldn't get my mother to cooperate. When she wouldn't cooperate, I would give up. I gave up at least three or four times over a two year period".
"I was finally able to implement my solution for one simple reason -- I was learning new and better techniques as an Alzheimer's caregiver over time. I was figuring out how to make things happen through trial and error. I was marrying all of my ideas together and pulling out whatever tools I needed to get the job done".
"In this case, I married pattern of behavior, with some singing (music), and a good positive attitude. Throw in some good solid positive reinforcement and some good communication and you get a solution to a problem. You also need patience and intestinal fortitude. You develop these over time as part of the caregiving process".
"I declared war on poop. Like most wars, you have to win a series of battles over a long period of time before you get to declare victory".
"My sister Joanne was here while I was in the last few battles of the Poop-E war. Mom was still fighting every day about drinking the prune juice. But, I was making headway.

Finally with victory in site I stumbled on one last thing I needed to make the solution work. The Poop-E and Prune Juice song. I should say songs".
"Joanne was here when I was in the Poop-E war. When I finally told her on the phone that I had mom drinking prune juice everyday, she had trouble believing it. She saw mom and her anti-prune juice attitude in person".
I am feeling a bit frustrated at the moment. Frustration for me is not a bad thing. I will need to find a way to communication my ideas more effectively.

My guess is that 93 percent of Alzheimer's patients will willingly, or near willingly, take a shower. 93 out of every 100. I'll say more about this later.

You will never convince me that every Alzheimer's patients is different from every other Alzheimer's patient, and you just happen to have the one that won't cooperate or do anything.

I had that patient, and that is how I know that there is a good chance you are wrong.

And, just to be clear, I am not the only one that has changed a recalcitrant, difficult to deal with Alzheimer's patient, into a happy, cooperative Alzheimer's patient.

Some say, if you know one Alzheimer's patient you know one Alzheimer's patient. Say what?

Every human being is different from every other human being (twins etc excluded).

I bet when you go to the grocery store to buy fruit, say oranges. I bet you look at the fruit and pick out just that certain piece of fruit that appeals to you. Somehow you are thinking and believing that the oranges you are picking are different from the other oranges in that batch.

Let me disabuse you of this. You can put a blindfold on and pick your oranges. They will taste exactly the same as the oranges you pick out somehow convincing yourself that those you hand picked were different -- better.

Peel an Alzheimer's patient. They probably look more or less like most human beings. And, they will cooperate if you create the right environment that makes it conducive for them to cooperate.

Or, you can tell yourself, not every patient suffering from dementia can do this. Pat yourself on the back, you are in the seven percent.

For those of you that are so very anal. Yes, I am well aware that a fraction of Alzheimer's patients are in a late stage. I understand they can't stand up, or can't communicate. I fully understand they can't.

However, this article is actually written for Alzheimer's caregivers that are caring for an Alzheimer's patient that can, and does from time to time.

The articles I am writing are for Alzheimer's caregivers that are searching for answers, and want to change the way things are.

I understand how difficult it can be to be an effective Alzheimer's caregiver. Because unlike many that write, I was YOU before YOU became YOU.

Related Articles in the Alzheimer's Reading Room

What is Alzheimer's Disease?

What is the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia

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

10 Things a Person Living with Dementia Would Tell You If They Could

3 Ways to Get an Alzheimer's Patient to Eat More Food

Communicating in Alzheimer's World

10 Symptoms of Early Stage Alzheimer's Disease

The Seven Stages of Alzheimer's

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room