Jun 17, 2017

Alzheimer's Care I Can't Take Her Out Because She Eats with Her Hands

"So many people get hung up on thinking, 'You're not the person I used to know.' That objectifies the person and distances you from them. It's saying, 'You're a problem' instead of, 'We're in this new place together."
~ Bob DeMarco, founder and editor of Alzheimer's Reading Room

Dementia care is the art of looking after and providing for the needs of a person living with Alzheimer's disease or dementia.

The positive effects of socialization, initiative, and motivation on the part of Alzheimer's caregivers and their loved one should not be overlooked. I believe these are as important as any medication.

I can't tell you how many times I either heard or read these words -- I can't take him/her out because she eats with her hands. I know this -- it is a big problem among Alzheimer's caregivers.

To be honest, I never worried about this.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I understand if I were to take my mother out in public, and she ate with her hands, it might be disconcerting to others. It is not likely they would assume my mother is living with  Alzheimer's, and as a result, they would likely conclude she is -- (you fill in the blank).

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When I first met someone in person that lamented that they couldn't take their loved one out because they ate with there hands I felt disturbed. Why?  Because one of the most important things you must do as a caregiver is take your loved one out into the "real world".

Caregivers should also understand that they benefit when they take their loved one out. First, you must get out. Two, persons living with dementia get bored just like the rest of us. You must keep them active.

I am willing to bet that at least a handful of you have heard the lament -- I can't take him/her out.....

Time for a trip into the Alzheimer's bunkhouse.

The problem -- they eat with their hands.

Bunkhouse logic solution -- eat finger food.

Many of you know that when I took my mother out we usually go to an open air bar/restaurant. A place where we can mingle with other people, and where there is a good amount of social interaction.

When we went out we usually eat things like chicken wings, burgers, chicken fingers, fries, and shrimp. You can eat all of these foods with your hands, and nobody is going to conclude that you failed Etiquette 101.

I never spent one second worrying about what other people would think about my mother or me. I understand this does make me a bit unique. Well, it is not about you - it is about your loved one and you have to get out of the house.

I can assure you, I am not going to be embarrassed by anything my mother does in public, and I am not going to be embarrassed for her.

Sooner or later you have to accept and understand that it is easier to accept Alzheimer's World then do the impossible -- change Alzheimer's World into Real World. Once you accept that you live in Alzheimer's World even though you don't have Alzheimer's, it will change your perspective. It will give you a strength and courage to accept the ways things are -- and stop fighting yourself.

As many of you know, on my trip down Alzheimer's lane I finally realized it was time to start living our life as we always had. One day at a time. One activity at a time. The same way we lived before the Alzheimer's diagnosis came.

As a result, I started taking my mother out to eat and into public venues. I learned early on how much this benefited her. It took me a while to figure out it also benefited me in my role as a Alzheimer's caregivers.

What can I say -- try it, you'll like it.

Here is tip that might help you get started.

Most McDonald's have tables and umbrellas outside the restaurant. You can sit around having a burger, fries, a coffee, or an ice cream cone. It is likely that there will be others sitting out there also. If you are lucky there will be some kids around. An added benefit.

You might get lucky like we do. Often a little bird flies up and lands on the ground. My mothers finds this fascinating, and it gives us something to talk about.

In order to survive in a world with Alzheimer's you sometimes have to think beyond the obvious. To adjust. Slight adjustments in the way that your use to doing things - often works well.

Amazingly, sometimes just keeping things very simple works best. Don't bang your head against the wall, if you are finding it difficult to deal with problems, or if you can't figure out a solution to a problem, you might consider joining a really good Alzheimer's support group.

You can also search this site because we have the solutions to all of the common problems that caregivers face each day. We have been here since July, 2009, and we keep adding new and better ways for caregivers to care effectively and solve problems.

Related Articles

How to Change Patterns of Behavior in Alzheimer's and Dementia Care

9 Things I Learned on the Path to Joyful Caregiving

13 Things Every Alzheimer's Caregiver Needs to Know

The Effect of Emotional Super Glue in Alzheimer's Care

7 Ways To Deal With Difficult Behavior Caused by Alzheimer's and Dementia

Communicating in Alzheimer's World

Lament a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.

Socialization the activity of mixing socially with others. The process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society.

Dementia care is the art of looking after and providing for the needs of a person living with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia.

Caregiver is a person who gives help and protection to someone who is sick or in need.

Coping requires us to make our own conscious effort to solve personal and interpersonal problems. This allows us to minimize stress, reduce conflict, and to better understand our situation.

Emotional super glue a bond that holds two people together and rises to a level that is so powerful, so all encompassing, that it can only be described in this way - you are bonded together by emotional super glue.

Empathy the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
"Behavior 'talks' to you. Instead of getting mad or frustrated because the person with dementia acts inconsistently or nonsensically, try seeing the behavior as a message. A behavior is like the tip of the iceberg -- something to be curious about, to investigate and to explore, rather than to judge."
-- Teepa Snow, occupational therapist and dementia-care consultant, founder of the Dementia Care Academy
"Socialization is treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Boredom is the enemy. All through the disease, interacting with others and doing absorbing things can improve mood, provide a sense of meaning and accomplishment -- and enrich lives (theirs and yours alike)."
-- David Troxel, past-president of the California Coast Alzheimer's Association; and developer, with Virginia Bell, of the Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer's care

How to Get Answers To Your Questions About Alzheimer's and Dementia

Article from Alzheimer's Reading Room