Apr 21, 2011

Creating Positive Patterns of Behavior in Alzheimer's Patients the Music CD

The establishment of a single positive pattern tends to lead to a second and a third. This is how you overcome seemingly impossible obstacles like the dreaded "NO" word....
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Creating Positive Patterns of Behavior in Alzheimer's

Our reader Harriet put in a comment under the article -- Dotty Sings Who's Sorry Now to the Parrots -- that immediately caught my attention.

Harriet wrote:

I usually pop a CD into the car radio when we drive somewhere...be it my husbands favorite Crosby or Sinatra recordings. He usually sings along. Forgot to turn the music on one day and he just started singing Sinatra's "Night and Day" .... which reminded me to turn the music on. A random choice came on. It was "Night and Day"!! Go figure. My husband got a kick out of Sinatra "following along"....

This is definitely an excellent example of how you can develop a positive pattern of behavior with a patient suffering from dementia.

It is easy to get buried under the idea that Alzheimer's patients can't remember; or that, they can't learn.

If they can't remember, how and why did Harriet's husband start singing all by himself without the extra stimulation, catalyst, of the music CD playing in the car?

Clearly there is a lot going on in this example. Is their something to be learned? Did this simple act and experience bring happiness and joy to Harriet? Happiness and joy to her husband?

How did this affect the caregiver patient relationship?

Did this experience have any effect on how they related to each other right then? That day? In the days ahead?

One point I am trying to make all the time is the importance of creating positive patterns. On a macro scale a positive, consistent pattern to each day.

On a micro scale developing tiny patterns, one by one, that hook together to make each day consistent. To make today, tomorrow and the next day consistent.

It is my belief that one reason that Dotty seems to be thriving is because of the consistency of each day. Because we created, together, positive patterns that work while operating in Alzheimer's World.

One key here. It is not about what works for you, it is what works best for a person that is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Often this means you have to change the way you are doing something. Often this means experimenting until you identify a series of events that you can hook together to help you get the patient to do what you would like them to do.

Once you discover something that works, then it is necessary to begin to do that each and every day. To establish the pattern to the point where it starts to happen on its on.

The establishment of a single positive pattern tends to lead to a second and a third. This is how you overcome seemingly impossible obstacles like the dreaded "NO" word. They will still say NO, but they can become engaged in the pattern and actually start doing what you would like while still saying NO, over and over. Happens around here every day.

I'll write more about how I came to understand the importance of patterns, and how establishing consistent patterns can lead to a more positive, rewarding, caregiving - patient relationship.

Congratulations Harriet, loved it.

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Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The ARR knowledge base contains more than 5,000 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room