Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

10 Things People With Alzheimer’s Taught Me

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

I was a caregiver for Ed, my beloved Romanian life partner, for seven years when he had Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, I currently volunteer to make weekly visits to four women who live at Clare Bridge, a Brookdale Senior Living memory care facility in Overland Park, Kansas. (I refer to them as “my ladies.”) Here are the ten most important lessons these people have taught me.

  1. Simple pleasures can bring great joy to a person with Alzheimer’s
  1. People with Alzheimer’s usually enjoy getting gifts – no matter how small
  1. Pets, children, music and art may reach them on levels we cannot
  1. Just because they don’t talk doesn’t mean they aren’t perfectly aware of what’s going on around them and what people are saying to and about them
  1. There’s usually no reason to tell them someone is dead (Tell them a white lie instead – that the person will be back soon)
  1. Correcting them about something will probably either embarrass them or else start a big argument
  1. People with Alzheimer’s usually adjust to change more quickly than we do and they soon forget unpleasant things that happen to them. We may be the ones who continue suffering
  1. They can still enjoy life, even if only for brief periods of time
  1. People with Alzheimer’s may remember past love and also experience love in the present
  1. People with Alzheimer’s can be humorous at times – Then we can laugh with them.

 

Gifts Can Bring Joy to a Person With Alzheimer’s

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Everyone loves getting presents and people living with Alzheimer’s are no exception.

I originally learned about the importance of gift giving from my beloved Romanian life partner, Ed. When he put on a new pair of shoes I brought him, he exclaimed, “These are the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever had.

They weren’t especially beautiful. They were just an ordinary pair of black Dr. Scholl’s with Velcro fasteners. But to him they were special.

Then one day on a whim I bought him a little yellow stuffed chick.  I was afraid he would be insulted that I took him a child’s toy.

But I didn’t have to wait long. Soon he held it to his chest, petted it and kissed it. Then he looked at me and said, “Thank you! Thank you so much!  I never had such a lovely present in all my life!

More recently the value of giving gifts to people living with Alzheimer’s was reinforced by some of “my ladies” – women I volunteer to visit at a local memory care facility.

One day I took Ethel a small wrapped gift – a decorative note pad with a magnet on the back.  When she saw it her whole face lit up.

She was so excited that I was afraid she was going to be disappointed. So I told her, “It’s just a small gift, Ethel. It’s no big deal.”

Her response was very touching.

“I know, honey, but it’s a present.”

By that she meant she was happy to get a present no matter what it was.

Another “lady” is Ruth. Ruth loves big-band music, so I took her a CD of Glenn Miller. She was ecstatic. It was a true joy to see her so happy.

Here’s a tip: I always wrap the presents, even if they are little things you might not ordinarily wrap, such as a couple of cans of Dr. Pepper I took Ethel. She really enjoyed tearing off the wrapping paper.

You should be prepared, however, for a gift to be instantly set aside and subsequently ignored.

You see, people living with Alzheimer’s apparently enjoy seeing and unwrapping a present more than they actually enjoy having it. I think that’s because they immediately forget about it once they’ve opened it.

The gifts bring them joy for a short time and that’s what matters.

Does anyone else have any stories about giving gifts to their loved one?

Bring Joy to a Person With Alzheimer’s

Monday, February 17th, 2014

I volunteer to visit some women with dementia at a local memory care facility. Ethel is one of my “ladies.” One day I took her a small wrapped gift – just a decorative note pad. When she saw the present her whole face lit up.

As she was beginning to unwrap it I told her, “It’s just a small gift, Ethel. It’s no big deal.”

Her response was very touching.

“I know, honey, but it’s a present.”

By that she meant she was happy to get a present no matter what it was. She meant that getting presents is special.

I always wrap the presents, even if they are little things you might not ordinarily wrap, such as a couple of cans of Dr. Pepper I took Ethel. She enjoyed tearing off the wrapping paper more than she enjoyed the soft drinks.

You should be prepared, however, for a gift to be instantly set aside and subsequently ignored. You see, they enjoy seeing and unwrapping a present more than they enjoy having it. I think that’s because they immediately forget about it once they’ve opened it.

The thing to remember is that people with Alzheimer’s live only in the present. If you understand that you won’t be disappointed when they shunt the present aside.  The main thing is to bring them pleasure in the moment and that’s what a wrapped gift usually does.

 

Note: I have changed the names of all of the women to protect their privacy.