Apr 2, 2011

Dotty, Linguine, No Nap, and Just Let Her Do It

If Dotty can do it, let her do it....
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Last night I took Dotty out for her one of her favorites, linguine with white clam sauce.

Dotty is having more and more trouble walking. She continues to lose confidence and has to hang on to something almost all the time. Until recently, Dotty would get herself out of the car seat and stand up before I started assisting her. Now she waits until I help her stand up. I'll be keeping a close eye on this.

Slowly but surely, we make our way into the restaurant and are seated.

Once the linguine appears, I start observing. Can Dotty still twirl the linguine? On this night she is having a problem. Then she does something I have rarely seen her do. She picks up the big spoon and starts working on the lingunie with the fork and spoon.

At this point, I am surprised and she has my total attention. I should make this point. I am keeping my mouth shut. That is the way I work it. Observe. Don't distract. Wait and see what happens.

Dotty is only having moderate success twirling the linguine. Most of the time it is sliding off the fork. I watch with interest. She is making some very interesting facial expressions. It appears to me that she is thinking, why the hell does it keep sliding off the fork? Meanwhile, she keeps working away. No cursing, no frustration, it seems to me she is determined to get the linguine into her mouth.

She actually has a look on her face that seemed to be saying -- linguine you are going into my mouth. I sit there smiling, and think to myself -- go for it. I keep my mouth shut.

Finally, I decided to demonstrate how to twirl the linguine using only the fork. I twirl it on to the fork, hold it up and say, see. Then Dotty surprises me, she opens her mouth wide. So I fire the linguine right into the airport hanger.

I feel an entire range of emotions when this happens. Happy sure. But, I did cringe. Are we getting near the point where Dotty will need to be fed? I'll worry about that when the time comes.

At this point, I look at Dotty's fork. It seems to be bent. I change forks with her and she seems to be doing better. She attacks on her linguine slowly but surely until she has enough.

When she stops she tells me she will eat the remaining linguine for dinner tomorrow night. Normally, it is me trying to get her to stop before she explodes. They give you a monster sized plate of linguine at this restaurant.

While I am writing this article Dotty wakes up. She has a nice smile on her face this morning. She looks happy.

Maybe I'll give her the linguine for breakfast.


On Thursday something happened that surprised me. Dotty went the entire day without taking a nap.

She woke up around 8:30 AM and I put her in bed at 10 PM.

By 3 in the afternoon, Dotty was getting my attention. No cat nap. This continued along as we prepared for our daily foray out into the bright light. When we arrived back home I figured she would be worn out and would take a nap.

Didn't happen. By 8 PM I am paying very close attention. I get Dotty into her chair, feet up, and I figure any minute now she will fall asleep.

We had American Idol on the television. I look over and there is Dotty wagging her foot, like you would tap in on the floor. HMM. It was clear that she was paying attention to the music.

Then, out of the clear blue sky, Dotty says, two of them are going home tonight. I can't tell you how many times I have explained to Dotty how the show works. Each week, one person gets eliminated until they crown the American Idol. This week two go home. Dotty is aware of this. Surprise. Surprise.

Time for Dotty's medication and ice cream. She is still wide awake. Normally, when Dotty gets over tired, she gets a dull, "not there" look on her face. Not on this Thursday. She is in a good mood and she is still "there".

Finally around ten she announces she is going to bed. I assist her to her bedroom. She proceeds to change out of her cloths and into her pajamas. It works this way. I say to Dotty here are your new undies, and your pajamas are on the bed. So far, she continues to change and put herself in bed. This is part of our very consistent pattern. Same way every night.

This is also part of my operant philosophy. If Dotty can do it, let her do it. I do this for a simple reason. If I don't do it for her, she might not forget how to do it. If I do it for her, she will surely forget.

I'm still scratching my head about the no nap. In case you don't know, Dotty will be 95 years old soon.

My Dotty. Amazing.

Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading Room
Enter your email address:

Read More on the Alzheimer's Reading Room

Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,390 articles with more than 272,100 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room