Archive for August 2013

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Friendship Among People With Alzheimer’s

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Arm Outstretched Resized

 

I remember reading somewhere that people with Alzheimer’s enjoy being with others like them. The following story clearly illustrates that.

When I went to visit Ed, my Romanian soul mate, one day I found him in his room looking at the newspaper, which he was holding upside down.

Suddenly a stocky little man appeared in the doorway.

I was surprised when Ed, a life-long loner, smiled and reached out with his right arm, then smiled and shouted, “Come in, come in.

Ed looked at me and said, “Marie, this is my dear friend, John. We’ve been best friends for years.”

“Yes, we’ve been best friends forever,” John said, waving at us.

Ed patted the empty space next to him on the other side of the sofa and John sat down. Then – and you might imagine my shock – they started holding hands and taking turns telling me how many years they’d been best friends.

They reminded me of two little girls sitting on a bench, dangling their legs while waiting for the school bus. I was delighted – though dazed – that Ed had made a friend, and so quickly at that. Ed had never been one to make friends at all. And he’d only been at the Center a week.

“Hi, John,” I said, wanting to be gracious to Ed’s new friend. “How long have you lived here at the Alois Center?”

He snapped to attention. “All my life,” he answered proudly.

After a while John said he had to leave. After exchanging more pleasantries with Ed, he let go of Ed’s hand and stood up. He bid good-bye to his dear friend, then exited in his shuffling gait.

I found myself hoping he’d come back on a regular basis to visit Ed, his dear, affectionate “childhood friend.”

 

Does anyone have stories of how people with Alzheimer’s can form deep bonds with each other?

 

 

My 3 Biggest Regrets as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Marie & Ed in Love Again

 

In many cases I was successful in finding the way forward when I was taking care of Ed, but in other situations I faltered. Looking back at that period now I have three major regrets.

1.   I Didn’t Place Ed in a Nursing Facility Soon Enough

Ed needed to be living in a nursing facility at least two years before I finally got him into one. I had power of attorney and Ed had an official diagnosis of “dementia.” Therefore I could have taken him even against his will. But I was weak. I was an idiot, actually. I was afraid he’d never forgive me and never speak to me again. I put our relationship ahead of his safety and welfare.

I regret having waited so long. If something had happened to him while he was living alone I never would have forgiven myself. I (and he) was just lucky he didn’t get hurt or lost

2.  I Didn’t Touch Ed Enough

When Ed was living in the nursing home it was obvious that he needed and enjoyed being touched. When visitors came to see him he would almost always hold their hand most if not all of the time. Why I couldn’t see that he needed me to touch him is beyond me, and I have been sorry for it for years.

3.   I Didn’t Visit Ed Enough Near the End of His Life

Near the end of Ed’s life I began to visit less often because I was preoccupied with getting a new job. And so I visited less. Whereas I’d earlier visited two to three times a week, I began visiting only once a week and a couple of times I even skipped an entire week.

So these are the things I wish I could do over. But I can’t. All I can do is hope this article will save someone else from making the same mistakes.

 

Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear in the Refrigerator? (Book Review)

Monday, August 12th, 2013

In just 37 pages the authors  – Max Wallack and Carolyn Givens – provide a wealth of information about Alzheimer’s in language children can understand.

But it isn’t just a book that explains Alzheimer’s. It goes far beyond that. It also shows how children can interact with, help and love grandparents who have the disease.

Although at first glance it might appear that the book is simply telling the story of a child and her grandmother, it is written creatively and strategically to introduce and deal with many of the fears and misperceptions children in this situation can experience.

Issues touched on include a child thinking it may be his or her fault, being afraid of “catching” the disease, and understanding the difference between healthy and “Alzheimer’s” brain cells.

We see how a youngster deals with a grandparent’s symptoms such as not remembering names, repeating questions over and over, being incontinent, being easily frightened, and wandering. We are also shown that it is okay to feel angry or embarrassed.

Finally we see a glimmer of hope as Julie decides to become a scientist in order to try to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

I highly recommend this book to anyone whose child’s grandparent has Alzheimer’s.

 

Senior Helpers: An In-Home Care Company That Really Cares

Monday, August 5th, 2013

If you’re looking for a home care company, I suggest you check to see if there’s a Senior Helpers in your area. I’m recommending it because it provides exceptional care to people with dementia.

All caregivers at Senior Helpers receive special training in the care of people with dementia.  Each new employee attends a one-day training class that includes watching a DVD by Teepa Snow, nationally renowned dementia care specialist, discussion and role play.

Ongoing education consists of additional classroom training, including role play, and self-study materials, primarily DVDs and written materials.

Too many people focus on what people with dementia can’t do. Senior Helpers focuses on what the person with Alzheimer’s still can do.

Senior Helpers, founded in 2002, creates customized home care plans that change as the person with dementia changes.

In addition to providing in-home care, Senior Helpers monitors clients in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers, and continuing care retirement communities. The company also provides respite care to assist families by providing care for a short period of time, such as vacations.