Feb 5, 2014

Can a Person Living with Dementia Become Happier and More Aware ?

It is not unusual for persons living with Alzheimer's or a related dementia to look different as the disease progresses.

Sometimes they start to look dull, unaware, and sometimes mean.

Can a Person Living with Dementia Become Happier

Some people conclude,

This never happened to me. In fact, I decided early on that I would change my mother back into the person "I knew".

And then I did.

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Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I describe our journey with Alzheimer's as

The Path from Burden to Joy.

For the first 18 months together both Dotty and I were miserable. I now believe this happened because of  my inability to adjust to the changes that were happening in Dotty's brain.

I tried to treat Dotty like I always had. Quite frankly, it did not work.

I had to learn to look and listen. I had to learn a new way to communicate - cut out the blah blah blah.

I had to learn how to reconnect with my mother - two circles trying to intersect.

At first, I thought I had to find a way to bring my mother out, or back so to speak. I finally realized that wasn't going to happen in the way I was envisioning early on; so instead,  I realized I had to join her in her new world, and I did.

Dotty Alzheimer's Reading Room
Dotty on her 95th Birthday, 2011
What do you think, did she look different?
Many of you are asking so I am going to change gears here.

One of my greatest discoveries, and game changers, was Harvey, the repeat parrot. Harvey had an amazing way to communicate with Dotty.

But what he did best was listen, and reinforce her.

I wrote previously that Harvey is the greatest caregiver tool of them all. I believe this to be true.

In the video directly below,  you will see our good friend Jeannemarie and Dotty interacting with Petey and Harvey.

Notice the look on Dotty's face as she leans in and says,

Harvey's my boyfriend.

Watch Dotty's face closely as she sings, and the strength in her voice.

When the parrots turn and face the camera, Petey is on the left, and Harvey is on the right. Find a Petey here.

This video is 3 minutes and 27 seconds long. Watch Dotty's face.

For those of you that want to see Dotty again, or learn more about her, I suggest you click the link to the following videos.

In this video you will see Dotty start by telling a fascinating story about her mother and the Lobster Club in south Philadelphia. I never heard this story before, and neither had anyone else.

Later in the video, Dotty will first say she won't sing, but with a little bit of guidance, she starts singing away. I think you will enjoy the ending.

The following is my favorite video of all time. This happened 2 months before Dotty died and went to Heaven. You might be thinking she was looking pretty bad.

Nope, she was full of an awareness that stunned me on that day, and continues to stun me and warm my heart over and over. Keep in mind Dotty scored a 14 on the MMSE in 2009. This video was taken in March, 2012.

When I speak publicly I also show this video. It you are patient and watch to the end you might be pleasantly surprised and uplifted.

Please like and share the videos in the Alzheimer's Community.

Here are the links (you can copy and paste them):

Alzheimer's Patient Dotty Sings with Parrots -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0oqEO4fRaI&list=PL1B6FBA45DB0E1518&feature=share&index=6

Alzheimer's Patient Sings Shine on Harvest Moon, and Talks to Parrot -- http://youtu.be/3tUUpo-1noI

95 Year Old Alzheimer's Patient Colors Beautifully and Talks About It -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kHJmePJsi0&feature=share&list=PL1B6FBA45DB0E1518

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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 4,900 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room