Oct 17, 2012

Time, Patience and Alzheimer's World

You cannot walk up to a person who is deeply forget and start blabbering away full blast. You arrive on the scene, make eye contact, and then exchange smiles.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Time, Patience and Alzheimer's World
Previously I wrote, Alzheimer's World, Nonverbal Communication and Patience. If you did not read that article I suggest you take the time to do it.

Did you make it to Alzheimer's World, yet?

If not, or if you are new, I suggest you search our knowledge base using this term -- Alzheimer's World. You can find the search box on the right hand side of every page on this website.


Time moves more slowly in Alzheimer's World. Once you take your big giant step to the left and enter Alzheimer's World you have to slow down. Slow way way down, and be patient.

You might not have given this much thought but most persons who are deeply forgetful think and move much slower than we do.

If you take the time to look you will notice that when a  lot of people are "buzzing around" the deeply forgetful tend to get confused or anxious. Same thing happens in a crowded place where people are talking.

Sometimes when the environmental stimuli become too great, Alzheimer's patients tend to react negatively, or "or just say No all the time".

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Lets try a few examples.

One time my friend Diane decided that she was going to give me some respite time. She said, I am going to take you mother to the gym, then for a manicure, then to a movie. Wonderful.

Before she left and while my mother wasn't listening to us I said to Diane, my mother walks very slow. So slow in fact that you are likely to find it "disconcerting". She laughed and said, I can handle it. I responded, okay, just be patient.

As soon as they returned home, and as soon as Dotty was out of earshot, Diane said, oh my God, how do you do it? How do you walk that slow.

I answered by saying, I taught myself how to do it. I figured Dotty and I were going to be walking around for a long time together. I knew she couldn't change, so I did. Good thing that I did. The long time was 8 years long.

Later Diane said, it took me forever to get her up those 8 steps leading to the front door. I said, opps, I forgot about that, I'll show you how I do it the next time we go out.

When the time came I had Dotty on my arm and and as she reached the first step I said, 1, then 2, then 3, etc and she walked down all 8 steps without stopping. With Diane she did one step at a time and stopped on each step. Diane thought that Dotty couldn’t go more than one step at a time.

That episode with Diane, watching Dotty go all 8 steps was great fun. Diane's eyes were bulging out of her head as she watched Dotty and me. Diane had big blue eyes and a very expressive face.

Now how many of you have commented or told me that you're deeply forgetful person won't take their medication? Refuse to take it, or say No.

Yeah, that happened to me for a long time also. But it stopped once I made it to Alzheimer's World and started adapting.

You can't come right up on a person that is deeply forgetful and start telling them to take their medications. First, you need to start a happy little conversation with them and get them to see your smile, and hope they smile back.

Then you have to move nice and slow and basically keep your mouth shut. If they are taking three pills, you hold the first pill out in front of their face, pill in palm of hand, palm of hand open.

You really don't need to say anything. Now it might seem like forever before they reach for the pill. That is forever for you in the real world. But like I mentioned, everything moves slower in Alzheimer's World.

Now if you are standing there holding the pill in the palm of your hand, without saying a single word, 20-30 seconds might seem like forever. I know this because I started keeping time and 30 seconds with pill in hand and complete silence does seem like forever.

After pill number 1, you do pill number 2 same way, etc., one at a time till finished.

Now you might have to practice a bit, and I bet you will need to learn to keep your mouth shut. Its hard to be silent. Don't believe me, wait and see.

Once you start practicing patience and using less words, it gets easier and easier. Before you know it, you are fully immersed in Alzheimer's World and all kinds of things start working better.

The bottom line. You cannot walk up to a person who is deeply forgetful and start blabbering away full blast. You arrive on the scene, make eye contact, and then exchange smiles.

You move nice and slow.

Get on the Alzheimer's World Clock and start practicing patience. You stop explaining and cajoling, and you start using the minimum amount of words.

There is more good news. You become more patient in the real world, and that my friends, is not a bad thing.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then in Alzheimer's World a smile and an open palm are worth 10,000.

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 3,811 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