Jan 16, 2012

Can Dotty Make it Two Days Without Me? The Answer

"The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."
-- Thomas Moore.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

The day(s) finally came, it was time to walk the walk. To find out if the cumulative acts of Alzheimer's caregiving could bring with them the intended effect.

Would everything I had done for 6 long years pay off? This was my chance to prove to myself that what I thought could happen, would happen.

Talk is cheap if you can't back it up.

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What can I say. I left on Thursday evening and returned on Saturday evening. What would happen to Dotty while I was gone?

It all went wonderfully well.

Dotty was fine the entire time I was gone. No complaining, no begging to go home, no setbacks.

When I called and talked to Dotty she was fine (6 times). Happy. Having a good time.

Amazingly, it was at the moment when I returned, when she finally saw me, that Dotty turned "angry". You could say, she was mad at me.

Don't touch me, she said. Get away from me, she said. Go blank blank blank she said.

You will never be able to figure out what was in those blanks, I'm not telling. But now someone else does know what she said, Ruth heard her say it to me.

Me? No angst. No fear. No anger. I knew I would bring Dotty out of her funk in short order.

That went wonderfully well also.

I wish I could take the credit. All the credit. But I can't.

All the credit for those 48 hours go to Jim and Ruth. Our friends and neighbors. The Wizards of Delray Beach.

You might be thinking that I gave them a long list of things to do. I didn't. I described to them our daily routine, told them that Dotty has to pee every 90 minutes, and told them to call me if there was a problem. They never called.

I can tell you. They weren't worried. In fact, they were the exact opposite -- they were completely and totally confident. They told me not to worry.

I'll have to admit right here. I wasn't really worried, but I can say I was concerned.

Truth be known, I read so much negative "stuff" on the Internet about how things go wrong during the Holiday's with persons living with Alzheimer's that it brainwashed me. Brainwashed me into thinking something would go wrong.

I was so brainwashed that I spent more time preparing the plan for what I was going to do "if something did go wrong"; than I did explaining to Jim and Ruth what our typical day looks like. You have to have a disaster plan don't you?

Why did it go so well? Simple really. Jim and Ruth know that Dotty has Alzheimer's disease, but it does not affect in any way how they treat and interact with her. I can say, they treat her exactly the same way they always did. Did before I came to Delray Beach, and every day since I have been here. Why is this important? Because Dotty moved seamlessly into their world.

It is that simple.

I can take some credit here. I know I laid the foundation for success. I decided about six years ago that one of the most effective ways to deal with the difficult behaviors that come with Alzheimer's is to get out in front of them.

Be proactive.

Listen to the person living with Alzheimer's, figure out why they are doing what they are doing, or saying what they are saying, and take action. Change the dynamic.

Effective Alzheimer's caregiving is about creating a safe secure environment. However, there is a slight nuance. You create, create all of it, within the confines of Alzheimer's World.

In Alzheimer's World all the behaviors that can be so disconcerting, so burdensome, and so heart aching, are the norms, the expected. A part of everyday life in the World.

I have been at it for over 8 years now. About 6 years ago I decided that something had to change and that,

That Something was Me.

I had to become Dotty's friend and security blanket, not her enemy. Dotty couldn't change, so I had to adapt.

Everything went wonderfully well this time around because of the simple acts I performed each day over the last six years. And, because I just happen to live right near the Wizards.

If you have any specific questions put them in the Add New Comment box below, and I'll answer.

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Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,261 articles with more than 351,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room