Sep 9, 2013

Alzheimer’s World, The First Engagement and Connection of the Day

I want to let my mother know that she is living in a safe secure environment, and I want to reinforce this each morning.

By Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer’s World, The First Engagement and Connection of the Day

I believe it is important to make a special effort to start the day off on a positive note. The goal establish a positive outlook and a sense of connection (connectedness).

As part of this effort it is important to engage a person living with dementia directly and positively when they wake up each morning.

Touch (tactile communication) and positive talk are an important, necessary,  part of this effort.

If you start the day on a positive note, with real socialization and connection, it improves the chances of having a "good" day.

You could say, it is important to get the day off on the "right foot".

Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading Room

Related Articles.

Alzheimer’s World, The First Engagement of the Day and Connectedness

As soon as our day starts I am ready to connect the real world and Alzheimer’s World.

Alzheimer's World is the place where I communicate with, and engage my mother. Engage.

The goal is to start the day on a positive note.

I want to let my mother know that she is living in a safe secure environment, and I want to reinforce this each morning.

In Alzheimer’s World my goal is to reinforce the positive early and as often as possible.

Our day usually starts the same way, every day.

My mother frozen in her bedroom door saying over and over, “I am awake you know”.

When I get to the bedroom door I try to do the same thing each day.

First, I have a smile on my face.

I try to approach my mother on the correct angle -- so that she can see my face.

My goal is to get her to look me in the eye, see the smile on my face, and have her smile back at me. My goal is to create a positive communication exchange and it starts with the smile.

When I get to my mother, I hold her wrist to create an immediate sense of attachment, connectedness.

This nonverbal communication, the holding of her wrist, is designed to anchor her.

As I am holding her wrist, I put my forehead on her head. Connectedness.

I speak in a low, but very positive voice and tone.

I try to imply that all is well with the sound of my voice. That everything is good. I am using positive reinforcement to start our day.

Next, I take my mother by the hand (or she hold on to my arm) and we walk the kitchen table. When she sits down the newspaper is right in front of her on the table.

At this point, I take her medication out of the pill box. I walk over to her, then I put the pill in front of her face so she can see it, the pill (one medication at a time) is laying in the palm of my hand. I don't say a word. I just wait for her to take it. Sometimes she has something to say, like what is that, I don't need it, or something a little more salty. I just wait.

Almost every time -- she takes the pill and a sip of water, one by one I hand her the pills. I usually saying big drink. Those are my only words. I want to get the entire glass of water into her if possible.

Sometimes she balks and starts to complain about the medication.

Before I discovered Alzheimer’s World, I would try to explain to her the importance of the medication, or why she was taking the medicine.

In the real world, this explanation is important and designed to bring about a sense of order.

In Alzheimer’s World trying to explain is often a waste of time and counterproductive. I learned this over time. Explaining the purpose of the medication was for me, not for my mother.

In Alzheimer’s World -- the fewer the words, the better. The fewer the explanations the better. I learned it is not productive to explain the obvious over and over, day after day.

As I matured as an Alzheimer’s caregiver, I realized I had to change, and I had to learn that communication in Alzheimer’s World is about the person living with dementia. It was not about me. I’m the caregiver. It was about Dotty.

To make it to Alzheimer’s World I had to learn the following

something had to change -- and that something was me. 

I had to learn that all my complaining was about me, not about my mom. I had to learn how to listen and ask myself why. Why was she doing this? Why was she doing that? At first, my mind was blank, After asking myself why over and over, things started to make sense. Dotty actions and behaviors started to make sense.

I realized she had needs and it was up to me to supply those needs, and to help her when she needed some help sorting things out.

Back to my mother and the good morning.

Once my mother is at the table and has taken her medication -- I ask her -- what day is it?

She can’t answer this question.

I suggest she look at the top of the newspaper and tell me what day it is. Usually she can find the the day and date.

Sometimes I have to go over and point to it.

She tells me the day. Next I ask the date. She reads me the date. If I don’t do this I know that sooner or later she will start asking me what day it is, or what month.

Our day is off to a good start.

We shared a smile.

We engaged in a high form of nonverbal communication -- touch. My hand touched my mother’s wrist, and our foreheads touched -- this is designed to create a sense of connectedness..

I hold her hand as we walked to the kitchen table. Connectedness.

We engaged in conversation as we discuss the day and date. Connectedness.

Next up I ask her if there is anything interesting in the paper. Sometimes we talk about an article. The purpose is to communicate with each other much in the same way that people in the real world communicate. Connectedness.

Connecting the real world to Alzheimer’s World.

The purpose of all of this is to “engage” my mother early and often. To start the day off with connection. Connectedness.

The first five minutes of the day are important. These minutes set the tone for the entire day. It is important to get off to a good start. To get connected to the now.

Interestingly, when I first started doing this I found it hard to do. Once the pattern was established, I found the engagement heart warming.

This engagement often brings a sense of security and happiness to me. I am the caregiver. I believe it brought a sense of security, happiness, and connectedness to my mother.

This place of connectedness is where the real world and Alzheimer’s World intersect.

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 4,000 articles with more than 306,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content +Bob DeMarco , the Alzheimer's Reading Room