Nov 27, 2016

Alzheimer's Care Using the Brain to Create Happiness

Most people think when a person is living with dementia the situation is hopeless.

Many caregivers learn the care of dementia patients is far from hopeless.
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Many learn the situation is far from hopeless; and that, a person living with Alzheimer's and dementia is capable of more than we can imagine.

In the beginning our brain tells us - the situation is hopeless; and then, we learn it is not.

The use of the brain in caregiving has always fascinated me.

First and foremost, the irony of the situation. Our loved one is loosing the ability to do things that we take for granted. Their brain is being robbed of these abilities. We on the other hand have fully functioning brains. Why does our brain tell us its - hopeless?

Because most of us don't know any better. In fact, most of us don't have a clue about what to do when the diagnosis of Alzheimer's arrives. What did you really know?

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Here is what I learned. You can use your brain to create happiness while caring for a person living with dementia. We already know you can use your brain to make a person happy.

As a first step toward happiness I decided Dotty and I would start living our life.

No more she can't do this, she can't do that. Instead I decided to find out what Dotty and I could do. Before long I realized we could do most of the things we always did. I will admit it took a little longer to do them. You have to have patience with a person living with dementia.

So instead of taking the negative route, I took the positive route.

We began by living our life in the same way we always had. I started figuring out what Dotty liked to do - and then we did it. As time went on, I started figuring out what Dotty would have done if I had not been around. Read the paper, drink coffee, go to the store, go to bingo, go the pool. I just made a list and before long we had a nice daily routine.

I decided to go one day at a time. I decided I would deal with problems and adjust as needed. In other words, when it became necessary.

What a relief instead of all those negative thoughts that were holding us back; I started to think positively. Guess what happened? Everything started to improve.

No more excuses. No more living in a cave. We just started living our life.

We went out to eat. Sure, I had to find the right place and the right environment - I did. Of course, I still hear the same old things. I can't take her out. I can't take her out because - she eats with her hands, I can't take her out because (fill in the blank).

I stumbled onto the toy parrot, we called him Harvey. Sure enough Dotty started talking away - to a toy. I think Dotty talked to Harvey as much as she talked to me on some days.

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Then it dawned on me. Gee, if Dotty talks so much to a toy, I bet she wants to talk more with humans. Yep. So I found the right humans. Yes, Dotty could talk away for hours at a time.

I want to add here that for a long time Dotty and I were not really talking much to anyone. In retrospect, I was robbing Dotty of her life in just the same way that Alzheimer's was robbing her of her ability to remember.

There was one big difference. Once I started using my own brain I discovered that I could make both of us happy. I did.

You can use your brain to make yourself happy. You can also use it to create happiness.

Don't think too hard. In fact, think simple.

What are the really simple activities you could be doing to make both of you happy? What are the simple things that a person living with dementia can be doing to make them happy. They like to play with stuff. Like coins, or baby dolls, to shop at home, visit the pet shop at home, or rummage around and reorganize stuff.

Dementia patients can be amazed rather simply. Why can't you?

Maybe your brain has already kicked in to high gear. Maybe you have discovered that you can use your brain to become a more effective caregiver.

Do you have any good ideas that you would like to share?

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This comprehensive site is run by full-time caregiver and gifted advocate Bob DeMarco.
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