Jun 13, 2011

Alzheimer's, How Rich is the Daily Environment

The richer the environment in activity, the richer the environment in spirit, the richer the life of the Alzheimer's caregiver and patient.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

the richer the life of the Alzheimer's caregiver and patient

I'm sitting here and thinking to myself, I wonder what the day is like for an Alzheimer's caregiver who is alone at home with the person suffering from Alzheimer's. How rich is the environment?

For example, what kinds of activities are taking place? Are there lots of "dull" periods? Periods where nothing much is going on. Or, are there lots of activities to fill up the day?

I am also wondering how rich is the environment in spirit? Are you happy and conveying happiness to the person with Alzheimer's? Are you sad? Are you feeling mostly stressed?

Most important, are your thoughts mostly positive? Mostly negative? Or somewhere in between?

When I started as an Alzheimer's caregiver I can say the environment was not rich in activity, and certainly not rich in spirit. This place could best be described as "dull".

Want to guess what Dotty looked like and sounded like? Dull. I remember dull. It hurts. It hurts your heart and it hurts your spirit.

Many of you know, one night I had my epiphany. I decided we would start living our life.

So here I sit thinking to myself,

how rich is your environment?

I can say this. The greater the activity, the greater the socialization, the brighter the light, the better your day. I learned this slowly over time.

One thing I want to say. It is my belief you can change things and change them for the better with your loved one living with dementia. But, this is not something that happens in a day or a week. It happens slowly over time.

The greater the effort you make, the greater the result. This is my belief.

Some people marveled that Dotty talked, read, and did crossword puzzle. Well she didn't for more than a year, and that was my fault.

So we changed the routine. We talked, looked at the newspaper together. I had Dotty read to me - we interacted -- socialized. This is the way we started our day.

For the longest time, Dotty started the day angry, mad, and with an awful look on her face.

Then she started to smile. We would start talking and interacting immediately. We started the day off happy.

We had our new found friend, Harvey. Harvey entertained both Dotty and me. Dotty said Harvey had a good voice when he sang.

I am not the only person that knows that the greater the number of activities, the better and more lively the response you will get from a person that Alzheimer's.

The richer the environment in activity, the richer the environment in spirit, the richer the life of the Alzheimer's caregiver.

You might give this some thought.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 5,000 articles with more than 404,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room