I don’t know much about a lot of things. anything, really. Funny because the older we get, the more we realise and vocalize it.
Anyway…. I don’t know much about Alzheimer’s but maybe, as a mom, i can understand some of the ways i can help a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s…. I don’t know (?). Maybe it’s the constant repeating, the on going bribing with special treats to get them to eat, moving their hair out of their face, the praises and compliments…. like a mom does with her children….maybe this comes easy to me….i don’t know. or maybe i’ve been familiar with ‘mom’ things for almost 13 years….
a few things I think i know (i’m pretty sure, almost positive i know!):
1) the person with this disease is always right. always. don’t contradict them. if you she wants you to drive her home tell her you’ll take her home a bit later. Then (gently) distract her with other interesting topics. gentle conversations that she will understand and that will be easy for her to follow and participate in. dammit, don’t contradict them! seriously, there is no point in that. it only makes you look like a bitch and a pretty selfish uneducated, ill mannered dumbass.
2) There is no value in arguing with them. Don’t remind them about certain or particular things that you know might stress them out because you’re not sure they remember… They will only get angry and frustrated if they don’t know what you’re talking about. Instead let them remind you and simply follow along. If they talk about ‘dumb bunnies’ and the dairy farm in Wisconsin again and again (AND AGAIN!) just listen as if was the first time you heard this story …again and again. Nobody likes to forget –we don’t choose memory loss and nothing you do will ‘fix’ this. Don’t try to ‘fix’ this. you can only be supportive and loving and helpful. try it. accept it… fuck!, it’s not that difficult to ‘play’ along. our loved ones our mothers our grandmothers will feel better when you bring smiles and cookies and and hugs and when you hold their hand (i guess) instead of seeing you stressed out because you can’t fix their situation. good grief!
3) when you see her let her guide you — let her tell you whether she remembers who you are or not. if she doesn’t , just take it slowly and act extra friendly and loving… you are there to shoot-the breeze with her; to keep her company. if she tells you to get her purse or her coat because she just wants to hold on to it… do it. if she thinks someone will steal her things…. give her the coat and her purse. Then let her know that you don’t think anyone will take it but tell her if anyone tries to take it from her, you would not allow it. you are there to protect her and her belongings. (because that’s what cool people do for each other!)
4) if she wants her parents to pick her up, or if she’s wondering why her parents have not visited, tell her they’re on their way. a little white lie doesn’t hurt. in fact , it makes her feel at ease and relaxed and she won’t get frustrated and aggressive. tell her her parents know that you are there and she is in good hands with you. :)
5) tell her your secrets. she loves to hear juicy gossip. she won’t remember them or repeat but that’s okay. it’s that moment with the ‘ooohs and awws’ that counts.
and also, you don’t want her to remember your secrets your gossip or deep deep infamous thoughts :))
the fragile days of Geri…. Sigh.