Jul 11, 2012

Touching and Smiling

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a touch must be worth two thousand for a person who is deeply forgetful.

By Bob DeMarco

Alzheimer's the Importance of Touching and Smiling
Jocelyn and PaulDelaney
Jocelyn Delaney is a long time reader of the Alzheimer's Reading Room. She has been commenting since April, 2009.

Her comments are important and provide wonderful insights for Alzheimer's caregivers -- caregivers new to the effort, or veterans of many years of caring.

Under the article, Alzheimer's Communication, the Sender, Message, and Receiver, she commented:
It gets very hard once they can no longer talk or their speech is not very clear. I worry that Paul is trying to tell me something the I should know. That is when watching and taking note of their expression and demeanour is really important. Touching and smiling is very reassuring for them and still keep talking even if they can't or dont reply.

Two wonderful words of insight from Jocelyn -- touching and smiling.

Some people found it disconcerting when I would start rubbing Dotty's head, neck, or arms in public. Some would ask, why are you doing that?

Simple really. If I didn't touch Dotty who would? We really can't live well without touch. Plus, touch is a very powerful form of communication. It has a name -- tactile communication. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a touch must be worth two thousand for a person who is deeply forgetful.

The smile. What can I say. You smile at a person living with dementia and they smile right back at you. At least Dotty did. The sweetest little smile you ever saw. A lot better than that junkyard dog Dotty I had to live with for a few years. She didn't smile once for two years. Let me tell you, that could kill you.

But as you all saw, she was smiling away right up until the end. The smile is a also a very powerful form of communication.

Haven't you experienced a feeling of happiness when a person you never knew and never saw again walked by and smiled at you? A good smile can make your day.

Think beyond the obvious here folks.

Jocelyn provides a good framework for how you might improve your day, improve your caregiving effort, and improve how you might be feeling about yourself.

Thanks Jocelyn.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room