Archive for August 2011

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Using Music to Reach Alzheimer’s Patients

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

They say that children and pets can reach Alzheimer’s patients in ways that we normal adults can not. I also found that music was a wonderful treat for Ed. One time I engaged a classical violinist to come to the Alois Center, where Ed lived, and play a special concert for Ed in his room. I even asked the guy to wear a tux!

Ed was delighted beyond belief. He moved in time to the music. Hummed along to some of the pieces he knew. Clapped heartily at the end of each selection. And held hands with the violinist after the concert was over. (Ed held hands with ALL of his visitors!)

After the concert I asked the violinist to sit beside Ed on the sofa so I could take a picture of them. Ed looked as proud as if he were sitting next to the President or the Queen of England.  I knew he wouldn’t remember the concert the next day – or maybe not even that evening. But he had thoroughly enjoyed every second of it while it lasted. And that’s what it’s all about to give joy to an Alzheimer’s loved one.

Has anyone else used music to bring joy to their Alzheimer’s loved one? What was your experience?

 

 

 

Alzheimer’s Patient Reviews A Story From My Book

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

I mentioned a few days ago that a story from my book – “The Little Yellow One” – was published on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room (http://www.AlzheimersReadingRoom.com). One of the people who commented on the story was a 73-year-old retired lawyer who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2006. I would like to share his comments on the story with you:

“Marie’s story struck every chord of my heart. From her compassion to Ed’s glee, it is ever so touching. Understanding Dementia from the outside has to be terribly difficult. It is hard enough for those of us who have it. Those loving caretaker’s who commit themselves to us it is a terrible and difficult adjustment.

All they have is the Dementia staring right at them, the difficulty inherent in that, and the stark memory of what was and is not any longer.

One of the thrums on my hearty string is the wonderful way you Ms. Marley are able to accept the degree you haven’t been able to accept it and the dedication you continue to maintain towards Ed. That, coupled with your willingness to “Demean” your concept of Ed to buying and bringing him “The Little Yellow One” speaks loudly of your love for Ed. It also sounds out the order in which you place him, viz: number one in priority.

It also speaks eloquently of your ascent on your stairway of acceptance to a reality over which you have no other choice. Bless you!”

How to Restore Peace and Harmony to Your Relationship

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

A lot of people have suffered from negative changes in their loved one with Alzheimer’s. Sometimes the person’s personality changes for the worse and bad arguments can become the norm. There are three approaches I used that usually resulting in avoiding an argument in the first place.

1. Agree with your loved one – even if they say something ridiculous. It’s better to have peace than to be right.

2. Don’t even bring up subjects you think may upset them.

3. If they do get upset change the subject abruptly. They will most likely forget about whatever they were upset about.

These approaches worked for me. That doesn’t mean they will work for everyone, but you may want to try them. Does anyone else have other possible solutions?

“The Little Yellow One” Published on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Yesterday when I got up and logged on to my computer I discovered that a story I’d submitted to the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, one of the top blogs for Alzheimer’s caregivers, had been published that very morning. The “Little Yellow One” tells the story of a little stuffed chick I gave Ed that he loved so much and immediately named “The Little Yellow One.” Seeing his joy helped me accept the loss of my “old Ed.” In fact, this is the turning point in the book. It’s how I was finally able to accept his illness and feel his joy as my own.

If you’d like to read the story go to www.AlzheimersReadingRoom.com. Then scroll way down on the right to Recent Articles and click on “The Little Yellow One.” Do any of you have similar stories? New ways of communicating? Ways of making your loved one with Alzheiemer’s joyful? Share your experiences here.

Getting Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s to Stop Driving

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Taking Away the Car Keys

Almost all of us have had to do it. And we’ve all dreaded the day. Yet it’s virtually inevitable. The time comes when we fear they’re going to kill themselves or someone else.
If you found yourself in this unfortunate circumstance, how did you handle it? Were you able to convince your loved one to willingly give up driving or were you forced to take away the keys? How did it go? What reaction did you get? Did you feel guilty about it? Did it take your loved one a long time to get over being mad at you?
I didn’t have the guts to take Ed’s keys away and no amount of talking to him about the situation helped. So I simply started either driving him wherever he needed to go or else I did his errands for him. So he had no reason to drive. After several months it had been so long since he’d driven I think he lost confidence in his ability to drive. He never drove again the rest of his life. And eventually he even forgot he owned a car.

What was your situation like? (In my next post I’ll feature the most creative approach sent in here!) Do you have any advice for others who may just now need to get their loved one to stop driving?

New Reader Review

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

I’d like to share with you all today a review I received recently from a reader:

Dr. Marley has written a beautiful love story filled with laughter, love and what a true friendship is. My wish is to be lucky enough to have someone like Marie at the end of my life who would care so much for me like she did for her friend, Ed. She spent so much of her life dedicated to Ed, making sure that every step along the way he knew he was loved, respected and that he experienced joy and laughter as Alzheimer’s slowly took him away. From the moment I began reading the book, I laughed, cried and in the end I came to highly respect Dr. Marley for her unconditional love, dedication and respect for Ed. This story shows us all a beautiful example of what we should strive for when taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s and to hope that someone as lovely as Dr. Marley will be there when we may get the same diagnosis. Come Back Early Today is engaging, funny and a beautiful tribute to Ed Theodoru. Thank you, Dr. Marley. I really loved getting to share in your beautiful story.

How Family Members and Friends Can Help Reduce Our Stress

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

How Family Members & Friends Can Help Reduce Our Stress

 So often our family members and friends don’t know what they could do to help relieve our caregiver stress.  Sometimes even we don’t know. And even if we do have some concrete ideas, we’re often hesitant to ask for help.

 Can you think of some things other people could do that would help relieve your stress? Would you be willing to ask for that help?

 Here are just a few things others can do:

  •  Stay with your loved one for a few hours on a regular basis so you can have time to yourself to go to a movie, browse in a bookstore, or do whatever else relaxes you
  • Listen to you and try to understand
  • Ask you what they can do to help and then do it
  • Perform some routine household chores for you
  • Do some outside errands for you
  • Check in with you regularly and ask how you are
  • Take your loved one to doctor’s appointments
  • Take your loved one out for a long drive occasionally to give you some alone time
  • Visit local nursing homes and/or assisted living facilities and do research on them (if you’re looking for a facility for your loved one)

 What else can you think of that others can do to help relieve your stress? Are there other strategies you personally have found helpful? I’ll post some of them in my next entry.

 

 

 


 

 

Stressful Problems We’ve Had to Solve

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

What was the single most stressful concrete problem you had to solve as a caregiver for your loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease?  Was it taking away the car keys? Was it convincing your loved one to move to an assisted living facility? Dealing with long-distance family members who weren’t around often enough to see the signs and understand how serious the situation actually was? Or was it engaging hospice services or making end-of-life care decisions?

For me it was finding a way to get Ed into a long-term care facility. This proud and fiercely independent man was adamantly opposed to moving to any institution. I begged, pleaded, cajoled, even threatened him – all to no avail. Then I made plans to admit him against his will, but found I didn’t have the courage to follow through. Finally, one day he was so confused he forgot about his opposition to moving, and I rushed him to the facility before he could change his mind. For me, this was the most stressful problem I faced during the entire seven-year period of caring for him.

Tell us about yours and how you solved it.

Stressful Feelings We’ve Had

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Last time we talked about the most stressful concrete problems we had to solve as caregivers. Today I’d like to focus on the most stressful feelings we experienced. There can be so many, you may have trouble figuring out which were the most stressful.

 Many of you may have found that the most stressful feeling was simply the sadness of seeing the person’s memory and overall functioning decline day by day and knowing there was nothing you could do about it. Or did you find most stressful feeling depressed because, due to personality changes, you had permanently lost the companionship of your spouse, mother, father or other loved one?  Maybe your most stressful feeling was constantly worrying about your loved one’s safety.

 The most stressful feeling I had was losing my “old Ed.”  My Ed who had been my biggest supporter, cheerleader, and comforter. My Ed who treated me like a treasure. Who loved me unconditionally. I had to accept the fact that he was gone forever. It was so stressful not to have him anymore and it was so sad.

 What was your most stressful feeling?