Dec 3, 2013

I Was You Before You Became You, So I Already Learned How to Solve Problems

I understand how difficult it can be to be an effective Alzheimer's caregiver. Because unlike many that write about Alzheimer's care from observation, I was a full time, hands on, caregiver for my mother for eight and a half years.

By Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

I Was You Before You Became You,
I already traveled down
this road
To the majority of those who read on the Alzheimer's Reading Room I suppose I could say

I was You Before You Became You.

As an experienced caregiver, I understand how you feel. Importantly, how you might be feeling all along the way.

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For years now I hear newbie Alzheimer's caregiver say, what worked for me won't work for them.

They claim, the person they care for living with dementia is different than my Dotty.

I wonder how they know this?

Let's be honest. Weren't you convinced before you started that it wouldn't work?

Weren't you looking for evidence (the reasons) why it wouldn't work before you ever tried?

Did you give up as soon as a potential solution to a problem didn't work like magic?

Many of the solutions I implemented or discovered while caring for my mother Dotty sometimes took years to accomplish.

Many of the solutions took a long time to develop and then implement because there was so much to do. In other words, I could only work on so much at a time before I could turn my attention to new problems.

So it was not unusual for it to take a while before I turned my full attention to an existing problem.

Here is a good example. I called this the dreaded bowel movement and Poop-E war.

It took me more than a year to convince Dotty to drink prune juice, once I found the time to work on it actively.

Here are some of the things I wrote (said) about solving the dreaded bowel movement problem.
  • "I knew the solution to the dreaded bowel movement problem for years. I couldn't get my mother to cooperate. When she wouldn't cooperate, I would give up. I gave up at least three or four times over a two year period".
  • "I was finally able to implement my solution for one simple reason -- I was learning new and better techniques as an Alzheimer's caregiver over time. I was figuring out how to make things happen through trial and error. I was marrying all of my ideas together and pulling out whatever tools I needed to get the job done".
  • "In this case, I married pattern of behavior, with some singing (music), and a good positive attitude. Throw in some good solid positive reinforcement and some good communication and you get a solution to a problem. You also need patience and intestinal fortitude. You develop these over time as part of the care giving process".
  • "I declared war on poop. Like most wars, you have to win a series of battles over a long period of time before you get to declare victory".
  • "My sister Joanne was here while I was in the last few battles of the Poop-E war. Mom was still fighting every day about drinking the prune juice. But, I was making headway.
  • Finally with victory in site I stumbled on one last thing I needed to make the solution work. The Poop-E and Prune Juice song. I should say songs".
  • "Joanne was here when I was in the Poop-E war. When I finally told her on the phone that I had mom drinking prune juice everyday, she had trouble believing it. She saw mom and her anti-prune juice attitude in person".

So yes it took me years to solve the poop-e problem.

If you would like to read one of my wildest and craziest articles on this topic I suggest you take the time to read this one

That article has 81 reader comments, and I just reopened it for new comments. So fire away.

That article would bring a very strong reaction in support groups - I believe.

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+Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized expert, writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide. The ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 4,000 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Learn more about Alzheimer's and dementia, visit The Alzheimer's Reading Room Knowledge Base