Posts Tagged ‘laughter’

People With Alzheimer’s Say the Darndest Things!

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Alzheimer’s is a deadly serious illness and deservedly so. But sometimes laughter is the best medicine. My experience is that people with Alzheimer’s can say some pretty amusing things.

Many times the person is aware and even proud he or she has said something humorous. Then we laugh with the person – not at them.

These moments can be among the most precious we will ever have with our loved ones. Here are some examples:

My first stories are about one of the ladies with Alzheimer’s I volunteer to visit in a local memory care facility. I’ll call her Ruth. Ruth tells me the same story every time I visit her, except she sometimes includes new information or adds a twist to some part of the story.

She tells me that during World War II the Army used to bus young ladies to a base on Friday nights to dance with the soldiers. Ruth was one of those girls. She was a great dancer, unlike many of the men.

She tells me that most of them couldn’t dance and they just “stomped out a two-step.” When she tells me that she imitates them in a most humorous way, lively stomping her feet up and down.

Ruth also tells me that when the girls arrived at the base the men looked them up and down “like they were shopping.”

One of the bits of information she added the last time I saw her was that her husband was an especially bad dancer. “So bad,” she says, “he must have learned how to dance in a barn.”

But the most amusing event by far was when she offered me a cookie one day. I patted my ample tummy and asked, “Do I look like I need a cookie?” She said, “Oh, you’re just settling!”

I’ll share one more example – about one of my friends’ grandfather. (We’ll call him George.) It seems George was having a lot of trouble driving.

He was adamant that he’d never stop, and so his granddaughter, Sandra, disabled his car. He was, however, still alert enough to call a mechanic to come and repair it.

Sandra had assumed he’d do that so she had called his mechanic to ask him to give some excuse for not being able to fix the car.

When George contacted the mechanic the next day he was told “Your car needs some parts that are only available on the internet. It will take a long time.”

George then called his granddaughter and said, “Sandra, I have a job for you. Drive me to the internet!”

Alzheimer’s and Laughter – Sometimes It’s the Best Medicine

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Alzheimer’s disease is a deadly serious topic, and deservedly so. But sometimes laughter is the best medicine. So I’m going to share two amusing stories about Ed. He also found them funny and we both had a good laugh!

Ed minus Don - Resized


 An Alzheimer’s Sneaky Thief

After finishing each meal at the Alois Alzheimer Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, Ed would always wrap the spoon in a napkin, put it in the breast pocket of his sport coat and take it back to his room.

Pretty soon his room would have spoons all over the place so the staff would go get them and return them to the kitchen. But sure enough, the next day he would start a new collection.

I often sat with him when he was eating and had observed this behavior many times. Finally, one day when he started his cleaning ritual I said to him, “Don’t take those spoons, Ed. They don’t belong to you. They belong to the facility.”

“Oh, no!” he said, loudly enough for everyone to hear. “I take them every day with no remorse!”

The Lee-tle Pee-lows

Spoons weren’t the only thing Ed pilfered from the facility. They had sofas in the lobby that had little designer pillows on them. For some reason Ed was drawn to those little pillows (or ‘pee-lows’ as he pronounced it) and took them back to his room, too.

The staff would go to his room periodically, retrieve all the little pillows and return them to the sofas. And just as with the spoons, he would begin stealing them all over again the very next day.

One day I said to him, “You really enjoy stealing your spoons, don’t you?”

Ed got a sly grin on his face.

“It isn’t just the spoons I steal,” he said proudly in his thick Romanian accent. “I also r-r-really love to take those ‘lee-tle pee-lows’!”

He began laughing and so did I. And – you guessed it – he kept right on stealing the spoons AND the ‘pee-lows’!

I invite all of you to share your own precious amusing stories.

For more humorous stories about Ed, as well as numerous serious stories, read Come Back Early Today:  A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy (available on Amazon) or visit my website, which has a wealth of information for Alzheimer’s caregivers.



“Silly Saturdays:” A Crafty Grandfather – Contributed by Emily Mosher

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

My Grandpa was always a kind and eccentric man. He was also sneaky and liked to make accomplices of his grandchildren. He used to drop a big scoop of chocolate ice cream in our breakfast cereal, wink and walk off without a word. If Grandma saw us eating chocolate ice cream Cheerios, we’d tell her we didn’t put it in our bowls, but wouldn’t say who did (although she surely knew who it must have been).

In his early 80’s after his heart surgery, Grandpa was put on a strict diet, which was hard because he loved chocolate. He used to smooth talk us grandchildren into slipping him sweets. In his late 80’s, Grandpa would occasionally become confused about where he was, thinking he was in a field when he was sitting in his easy chair. He sometimes became confused while driving and we worried he would get lost one day or have an accident. The whole family argued with him that he shouldn’t drive anymore, but he refused to stop driving.

My uncle tried removing engine parts from Grandpa’s car, but Grandpa would get replacement parts. Fortunately, the car was more than 20 years old and soon broke down on its own. His mechanic, who by now knew that Grandpa shouldn’t be driving, told him that they didn’t have the part he needed in the store, that he would have to get the part from the internet. Later that evening, Grandpa called my cousin, Karen. He said, “I’ve got a job for you.” in his sneakiest most conspiratorial voice. “I need you to drive me to the internet.”


“Silly Saturdays” Post: An Alzheimer’s Tricky Thief

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

When Ed was living at the Alois Alzheimer Center he developed a most unusual habit. After each meal he would carefully clean his spoon with a napkin, wrap it in another napkin, put it in the breast pocket of his sport coat and take it to his room.

I tried many times to convince him not to do this.

In exasperation one day when I was visiting him with my sister, Freddie, I told him rather loudly, “Ed, don’t take that spoon. It doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the facility.”

“Oh! No, Kitty,” he announced. “I take them every day with no remorse!”

Freddie and I immediately burst into laughter, which made him laugh, too.



Alzheimer’s and Humor: What If You Had a Fire in Your Kitchen?

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Alzheimer’s is such a deadly serious topic and deservedly so. But sometimes laughter is the best medicine. So I’ve decided to make a “Silly Saturdays” post every week with some sort of amusing story about Ed when he was demented. Here’s the first one. I hope you enjoy it. Please send me your own “silly” stories and I’ll post them, too.

What if You Had a Fire in Your Kitchen?

Ed answered the knock on his door and found a pretty young lady in her mid 20s standing there. He smiled and gestured for her to enter. “Hello there! Oh, I’m so excited to see you again. How have you been? Come ‘een’! Come ‘een’!” he bid her.

Only thing was, Ed had never seen her before. That alone pretty much fulfilled the purpose of her visit. Kristi, Director of Admissions at the Alois Center, was there to evaluate Ed for placement. I’d warned her I couldn’t promise he’d even allow her in, let alone talk with her, so I was immensely relieved he was agreeable that day. Ed was oblivious to the real reason I’d arranged this interview. I told him she was a friend of mine who worked in a nursing home and she wanted to practice interviewing elderly people. It was only because of his dementia that I had to do it and it was only because of his dementia that I could get away with it.

Ed and his apartment were reasonably presentable that afternoon. He sat in his recliner, which served as the centerpiece of the living room from which he watched his precious political talk shows. Kristi, her white summer dress flecked with little green flowers matching the freshness of the sunny and breezy late August day, took a seat on the sofa near his chair. Not wanting to interfere, I sat at the far end of the sofa, planning to just observe.

She explained the real reason she was there. He didn’t seem to understand, but he was in an excellent mood and readily agreed to talk with her. I assumed it was mostly because she was so young and pretty. He loved all young and pretty women.

Kristi consulted the paper that was attached to a manila folder with a large paper clip, turned her body directly toward Ed, and began asking the usual questions, enunciating each word clearly and loudly.

“Can you tell me who’s the President?”

“Boosh,” he blurted out, grinning.

“Can you tell me what date it is today?”

He thought for a few seconds, then his head began to slowly shift downward as he simultaneously turned his left wrist inward a little.

Well, I’d be damned! His mind isn’t totally gone. He’s alert enough to remember his little Timex has the date on it.

That gave me some comfort. He stated the correct date and we all laughed about his cleverness.

Kristi continued with many more questions. Some he was able to answer. Most he couldn’t.

Kristi then asked the last question: “What would you do if you had a fire in your kitchen?”

He thought for a minute then a sly grin slowly appeared on his face. He stretched out his arm, pointed to me with his shaky finger and proudly announced, “I’d call her.”

Kristi and I laughed, which made Ed laugh, too.



“Silly Saturdays:” I’ll Eat It If You Eat It!

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Alzheimer’s is a deadly serious topic, but sometimes laughter is the best medicine. So I’ll make a “Silly Saturdays” post weekly with some amusing story about Ed, giving us a chance to smile in the midst of our somber life situation. Please send me your own “silly” stories and I’ll post them, too.

Ed had always had a horrible lack of appetite and was seriously underweight all his life. At 5′ 8″ the most he ever weighed was around 120. When he entered the Alois Center he was down to 111. The Alois aides were constantly trying everything they could think of to get him to eat more. When an aide once told him I was concerned he wasn’t eating enough he said, “Eef Ma-r-r-rie’s worried that I’m not eating enough you have her come here and tell me that herself!” 

Another time when an aide was urging him to eat, he finally smiled impishly and , obviously aware he was being humorous, said, “I’ll eat it if you eat it!” They both laughed and I had a good laugh, too, when the aide told me about it.