Humor about Alzhiemer’s…

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Humor about Alzhiemer’s…

Laughing with Lola

Humor about Alzhiemer’s…

Everyone in town called her ‘Aunt Lola,’ but no one knew whose aunt she really was. She was simply ours.

Dad said Aunt Lola had always been an interesting bird. Of course, things got a bit more interesting later in her life when Lola began to develop Alzheimer’s.

Aunt Lola lived in a rural area, and her husband, Uncle Buddy, had passed away a few years before. She eventually transitioned into residential care, but for a few years she lived by herself in her home, within a few miles of other family members who checked on her and who kept us entertained with Aunt Lola stories.

If I seem to approach this in a lighthearted manner, it’s because that’s the way Aunt Lola would want me to. As concerned as we all were about her delusional thinking, memory loss, and confusion, these issues did not bother her at all, and she spent most of her time laughing and cheering up everyone else.

She experienced several paranoid delusions, and the content of them was the topic of most of the conversations in which Aunt Lola engaged herself.

“They came and got my Irish potatoes and brought them back cooked!

“Someone has been in the refrigerator and fingered my chicken salad sandwiches.”

“I came around the corner and there he was—a man in a strange suit.”

As she related these tales of home intrusions and clandestine food operations, she did not appear to be overly concerned, was redirected easily, and usually would gravitate toward some topic she thought was funny.

In a minute or two, we were all laughing with her, sometimes to the point of tears.

Aunt Lola never took herself or her problems so seriously that she couldn’t share a little cheer with friends and loved ones. When Aunt Lola laughed, you had to follow suit.

Soon the laughter took on a life of its own, and you were no longer sure exactly what you had been laughing about.

In reality, it would have been difficult to have anything but joyful visits with Aunt Lola. All we needed to do was follow her lead and engage ourselves to go where she headed.

We need not be afraid of the concept of play. Play is necessary for all of us, even as we age. It is an activity and mindset that is centered in the present and requires a detachment from fear, judgment, and goal-directed planning to enjoy each moment in carefree gaiety. I enjoyed playing with Aunt Lola!

The delusions died down as her disease advanced, and Aunt Lola eventually had to be placed in a residential care facility. However, she was still full of joy and laughter, even as the curtain of Alzheimer’s progressively decreased her understanding. She still laughed and she still smiled, and she did so more heartily when others chimed in with her.

Toward the end, I could tell she was getting weaker, and some of that spirit with which we had been so familiar started to be silenced a bit. Laughter came, though not as vivaciously, but her innate trait of seeking relationships, of reaching out from inside herself to clasp the hand of another never faded.

Laughter and joy are always more meaningful when shared. Aunt Lola knew this in a very deep place, and from that place, she continued to laugh and experience joy until the very end.

Aunt Lola taught me the importance of laughter and play in our lives, even as we age, and that I should never take myself and my personal issues too seriously.

 

 

A Brief Walk on the Light Side of Dementia

(Marie)

I’m going to share two amusing stories about Ed. He also found them funny, and we both had a good laugh!

An Alzheimer’s Sneaky Thief

After finishing each meal at the Alois Center, Ed would always carefully wipe his spoon clean with a napkin then wrap the spoon in another 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.

Finally, one day when he started his cleaning ritual I said to him, “Don’t take that spoon, Ed. It doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the Alois Center.”

“Oh, no!

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

He was aware he’d said something funny, and we burst into laughter.

The Little Pillows

Spoons weren’t the only thing Ed pilfered. 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 developed the habit of taking them back to his room.

Just as with the spoons, 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 the very next day.

One day I was sitting with him in the dining room when one of the kitchen staff members, Ann, came over to say hello to us.

I said to Ed, “You really enjoy stealing your spoons, don’t you?

“Yes, he certainly does,” said Ann.

Just then 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 Ann and I, and you guessed it, he kept right on stealing the spoons and the ‘pee-lows’!

 

 

Bring Me Vodka!

 

(Marie)

 

One day I went to visit Ed. When it was time for his dinner I left, walking him to the dining room on my way out.

Marie, please bring me two bottles of Popov tomorrow,” Ed said sweetly as we passed the dining room.

Ed had always enjoyed drinking, and vodka was his preferred drink.

“Ed, I can’t,” I said, my body stiffening in anticipation of the ugly scene I knew would follow. “You’re not allowed to have vodka here.”

“What do you mean, I’m not allowed to have vodka?

” he asked incredulously.

He stopped walking and glared at me.

“This is America! I’m allowed to have anything I want! ”

“I’m sorry, Ed,” I said, my voice wavering. “I can’t bring you any. That’s the rule here.”

“I don’t need you!

” he shouted. “I will find someone else to get it for me. And you can be sure I will r-r-remember this! ”

I winced. I didn’t want a major scene, and I knew I couldn’t win the battle so, as much as it hurt, I turned my back on him and rushed out. I felt embarrassed as I passed Alice, the aide who was setting the tables.

I felt hurt when I went out to my car. As I drove home, I felt sorry for Ed. I knew how much he needed his vodka, and I wondered if he’d ever adjust to not having it.

A few hours later Ed called me and, as though nothing had happened between us, cheerfully asked me the address of “this place where I am ‘leev-ing.’”

Digging in my wallet to find the social worker’s card, I was pleased. I thought it was a good sign that he wanted to be oriented and know where he was. I told him the address, and he repeated it one letter and number at a time, leading me to think he was writing it down, which I also thought was a good thing.

The minute I hung up I got it.

Oh, no! He’s going to call Mr. Ellington, his ‘driver,’ to take him to buy some vodka.

I dialed Ellington’s cell phone as fast as my fingers would move and explained the situation. Mr. Ellington promised to tell Ed his cab had broken down and it would take him a few days to get there. Mr. Ellington was a dear.

I must admit, however, I was pleased Ed was still alert enough to figure out how to try to get some vodka. I checked with Ellington later and found out that Ed had indeed called him.

A few days later, I met briefly with Michelle, the director of nursing.

“By the way, Michelle, you’ll never guess what Ed did the other night,” I began. “He tricked me into giving him this address, and then he called a cab to take him to buy some vodka! Fortunately, I had the cab driver’s cell phone number, so I called and told him not to come. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t had his number.”

“Oh, Marie,” she said, leaning against her office doorway, laughing. “Don’t ever worry about anything like that. We’d never let Ed go out without calling you first.”

Then I burst into laughter, too.

 

 

Enough!

 

(Marie)

“Bingo!

” a woman hollered in a shrill voice.

I peeked into the activity room and saw Ed smiling. He was sitting on the far side of the long craft table and looked like he was having a grand time. I didn’t want to interfere with his fun, so I pulled up a chair and sat down beside him, planning to just observe. Martha, a tiny, sweet-looking aide, spun the cage, picked up the ball, and called out the combination.

“B-6!

Ed looked at his card intently then sang out sweetly, “Here ’tis!

” and covered the proper square with a red plastic marker. Quite frankly, I was surprised, but pleased, he was able to play without assistance.

Martha had seated Lucy and Sylvia on either side of her, so she could lean over and help them look for the numbers on their cards. Betty, at least ninety and almost as underweight as Ed, sat undisturbed amid the players.

The game continued, and each time Ed had the number he called out melodically with glee, “Here ’tis.”

I found this amusing and had to suppress a laugh. Martha seemed to find it funny, too, and looked in Ed’s direction, a smile on her face every time he voiced his little refrain.

Sylvia yelled something, in what I would later find out was Portuguese, in a disgruntled tone of voice every time she didn’t have the required letter and number. I could tell Ed was getting annoyed with her.

Finally, I guess he decided he’d had enough of her grouchiness, because he said so loudly that it was embarrassing, “I have one word to say!

“What is it, Ed?

” Martha inquired, a concerned look on her face.

He pointed his shaky finger at Sylvia and shouted, “Enough!

He was right. He did have just one word to say. It was clear he was aware he’d said something amusing. We all laughed with Ed, not at him.

 

 

People Who Have Alzheimer’s May Say the Darnedest Things

(Marie)

My experience is that people living with Alzheimer’s can say some pretty amusing things. Many times the person is aware and even proud that he has said something humorous. 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 Ruth. Ruth tells me the same stories every time I visit her, except she sometimes includes new information or adds a twist to some part of them.

During one visit, she told me that during World War II the Army used to ‘bus’ young ladies to a base overseas on Friday nights to dance with the soldiers. (Of course they weren’t sent overseas, but I didn’t tell her that.)

“I was one of those girls. I must say that I was a great dancer, unlike many of the men,” she said. “Most of them couldn’t dance well,” she continued, “and they just ‘stomped out’ a two-step.”

When she told me that, she imitated the men in a most humorous way, merrily stomping her feet up and down.

Ruth also told me, “When we girls arrived at the base, the men looked us up and down like they were shopping.”

That made us both laugh out loud.

One of the bits of information she added during a subsequent visit was, “My husband was an especially bad dancer. So bad,” she said, “I think he must have learned how to dance in a barn.”

As I was leaving one of my visits to Ruth, I said, “See you later.”

She cracked me up when she said, “Alligator.”

So now every time I leave we go through that little routine, even though sometimes I have to prompt her.

Then there was Ethel. My dear sweet, talkative Ethel. One day when I was visiting her, she looked at me curiously and announced, “I think you’re my age.”

And that despite the fact that I’m 20 years younger. I told one of the staff members about it. She was initially mortified, but then we both had a good laugh about it.

A final example of humorous things people with Alzheimer’s said is involves one of my friends’ grandfather, George.

It seems George was having a lot of trouble driving.

“I’ll never stop driving,” he always said adamantly.

And so my friend, Sandra, disabled George’s car. George 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 the day before.

“Please give Grandpa some excuse for not being able to fix the car,” she requested.

When George contacted the mechanic the next day, the mechanic told George, “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! ”

 

 

The Spelling Bee

(Daniel)

Transitions in dementia care can be very tough. Moving your loved one from home to a long-term care setting, or from residential care to a hospital, or to acute care and back again can be stressful for all involved.

Persons with dementia like stability, familiarity, and routine and need to feel they have some mastery over their environments. So this uprooting can set them back for a time, adversely affecting their behavior, mood, and mental clarity.

During these transitions it becomes especially important to employ any tools you have to lessen the stress. One such tool is role playing.

In your interactions with your loved ones, it is important that you be willing to enter their worlds, which will often be very different from yours.

For instance, loved ones may feel they are living in an earlier time, and they may believe that relatives or friends who have passed on are alive and in a relationship with them in the present.

Naomi Feil, the founder of Validation Therapy, teaches that this may be due to unmet needs.

“I want to see my mother,” you may hear your loved one say. Perhaps he needs to be in a relationship with his mother and to be comforted by a familiar person who knows and understands him; who loves him just as he is.

People with Alzheimer’s should be allowed to express their needs and to be in care environments that enable them to have their needs met in a non-judgmental, safe, and supportive way.

Similarly, loved ones may imagine themselves to be in a particular situation or activity from their past. As long as it is safe to do so, and if it appears to be comforting to them, it is important that they be able to view themselves in this way.

We were able to make use of the tool of role playing during one of my father’s transitions. Dad had been living at home with my mother and attending an adult dementia daycare center. However, due to our safety concerns and Dad’s increased need for around-the-clock support, we had to move him to a specialty care assisted living facility (SCALF).

In accordance with the intake and admission procedures for this facility, Dad had to be interviewed by the staff. The Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE), with which some of you may be familiar, was administered as a part of this interview.

Dad had taken the exam several times before during his visits to other healthcare providers, but his response on that day and at that particular time in his journey through the condition, gave our family a subsequent opportunity to engage him via role playing.

Dad was asked the standard questions, such as, “What day is this? What month? What year? What is the name of this city? This state? ” etc.

When asked the following question, Dad’s response brought smiles to our faces and ushered us into our new roles in his world:

“Mr. Potts, spell WORLD, backwards.”

Dad thought a moment then replied, “BACKWARDS. B-A-C-K-W-A-R-D-S…BACKWARDS.”

A spelling bee! In his world, Dad was back in grammar school participating in a spelling bee, and he appeared to be quite good at it. This was particularly surprising, since he already had lost the ability to read and write.

Our daughters, who were elementary school-aged themselves, were the first to happily assume their roles.

“Papa, spell ‘ALABAMA.’ ”

“ALABAMA. A-L-A-B-A-M-A. ALABAMA.”

“That’s great, Papa! My Papa is a good speller,” bragged our younger daughter, beaming.

And now Papa was beaming, too.

Thus, we were given a new activity to carry out in subsequent visits to Papa in his new long-term care residence. Not only did this opportunity for role playing help to ease the transition that day, but it also gave us a joyous activity to which we could return for many weeks afterward. It seemed to be fun for Dad and rarely failed to engage him.

It also provided an opportunity to build upon the theme of reminiscence, which is one of the most important themes in dementia caregiving.

In addition, it revealed Dad’s previously unknown talent for spelling at a time when he was losing many of his mental faculties. This affirmed him in his present state and gave him confidence. Furthermore, it helped to maintain and strengthen his relationships, especially intergenerational ones, such as those with his grandchildren.

This is critical, as the perceived loss of relationships may be the most important of the many losses experienced by persons with dementia and their families. I feel it is essential that persons with dementia be given opportunities to be in relationships with children and young people, and this activity promoted that kind of relationship.

When navigating those inevitable transitions with your loved one, be open to opportunities to enter his world and role play. You may be surprised at the joy that can be shared through such activities.

 

 

Maria’s New Walker

(Marie)

When I went to visit Maria one day, I found her in the ‘Hearth Room,’ as they call it. It’s a sort of combined dining room/lounge area where many of Clare Bridge’s social activities are held.

I should mention that Maria is a deeply religious lady who carries two rosaries with her at all times, says the rosary twice a day, and is forever doing little things around the place to help other residents and even the staff.

She was sitting at a table with two other ladies, both of whom were beautifully dressed and looked confused. Maria herself looked quite angry—a mood in which I’d never before seen her.

I sat down beside her and asked, “Is something wrong, Maria?

“No,” she said, sounding as angry as she looked.

I resigned myself to not knowing what had caused her bad mood, and I just sat there watching the two ladies eat the brownies they had been served as part of the ‘Mix and Mingle.’ That is a Thursday afternoon activity in which the residents sit at tables and have—or in some cases, attempt to have—polite conversation with each other while eating the marvelous snacks they are served.

At a certain moment, I noticed Maria had a walker parked in front of her. I’d never seen it before, and it had a note taped to it on a large piece of paper with extra-large handwriting.

I couldn’t quite read it from where I was sitting, so I asked, “What’s that big note say, Maria?

She painstakingly read the note to me: “Maria must have this walker with her at all times.”

Without missing a beat, this prim and proper lady looked up at me and pronounced loudly, “That’s bull #%&$!

 

 

To the Mortuary!

(Marie)

It was almost Christmas, and Clare Bridge was all abuzz with holiday music. Colorful wreaths were appended to the residents’ doors, and a large, beautifully-decorated Christmas tree adorned the lobby.

I sauntered down to Ruth’s room and entered as she opened her own wreathed door for me.

“Oh,” she said, “It’s you! Come in. How are you today? ”

Ruth doesn’t remember my name and doesn’t remember that I visit every Thursday, but she always recognizes me and knows that I’m someone she enjoys seeing.

“I’m great,” I answered. “How are you doing? ”

“Oh, I’m fine, fine, fine,” she said.

At her insistence, I sat down in her comfortable armchair while she perched on one of her armless dining room chairs across from me. She always insisted that I take her armchair, the best seat in the room. I’d long since given up trying to convince her otherwise.

We were chatting away and at a certain point she said, “I don’t know how long I’m going to be here.”

“Where are you going?

” I asked, bewildered by her statement.

She paused an instant then blurted out, “To the mortuary!

We both cracked up. I told her that wasn’t true and she shouldn’t talk like that.

Later on, I spontaneously told her, “I don’t know how long I’m going to be here.”

“Where on earth are you going?

” she asked.

I immediately pronounced, “To the mortuary!

” We both burst out laughing, then I pointed at her and said, “Gotcha!

Without missing a beat, she said, “You’ll be going there to say goodbye to me!

We then laughed even harder than before. It was indeed a joyous visit.

 

 

What If You Had a Fire in Your Kitchen?

(Marie)

One day before Ed moved to the Alois Center, I was with him at his apartment. He answered a 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 in! Come in! ” he told 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 had told him she was a friend of mine who worked in a nursing home and she wanted to practice interviewing elderly people. This was just another of the white lies I had to tell him to get what I wanted and he needed. 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.

He sat in his recliner, which served as the centerpiece of the living room, and from which he watched his precious political talk shows.

Kristi, whose white summer dress was flecked with little green flowers matching the freshness of the sunny and breezy late August day, took a seat on the sofa near Ed’s chair. Not wanting to interfere, I sat at the far end of the sofa, planning to just observe.

Kristi explained the real reason she was there. Ed 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 girls.

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 the President is?

“Boosh,” he blurted out, grinning.

“Can you tell me what the date 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 darned! His mind isn’t totally gone. He’s alert enough to remember his Timex has the date on it.

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

“What state are we in?

” she continued.

He appeared confused and looked at me.

“Sorry, Ed,” I said. You have to answer by yourself.”

“I’m so sorry,” he said, looking back toward Kristi. “I really can’t remember. I think it may be Ohio. Or Cleveland.”

“Okay,” she said. “What country do we live in? ”

“America!

” he shouted with glee.

“That’s right! Now, can you count backwards by sevens, starting at 100? ”

He had a blank look on his face.

“Count how?

“Backwards.”

“I can count very well—in English, Romanian, French, German, Russian, and Italian.”

“Can you count backwards in English by sevens, starting at 100?

” she repeated.

He looked at me again.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t help you, Ed.”

“I don’t understand the question,” he told Kristi, sounding flustered.

“That’s okay,” she said. “Let’s go on to the next question.”

“Certainly!

“Can you spell the word ‘world’ backwards?

He thought a moment then answered, “w – o – r – l – d.”

“That’s spelling it forward, Ed. Can you spell it backwards—starting with the last letter? ”

“Well,” he answered, “the last letter is ‘l’.”

I hoped I wasn’t looking disappointed.

She continued with her questions and wrote down everything he said.

“Ma-r-rie is such a good and dear old friend of mine,” he told Kristi after one of her questions.

“I think Marie loves you very much,” she said quietly.

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.”

It was obvious that he was perfectly well aware he’d said something humorous and again, we all three had a good laugh.

4522 Words

Rephrase
We’ve arrived!

In my sobs

You noticed reflections of yourself.

You laughed at that.

Then I began to smile.

“Horton Discovers a Who!

” you stated,

and sparkled as if a child had heard.

We laughed until it was dark.

having discovered the hidden cache

Daniel

 

Lola and I are laughing.

(Daniel)

Everyone in town referred to her as ‘Aunt Lola,’ but no one knew who her real aunt was. She was entirely ours.

Aunt Lola, according to Dad, was always a fascinating bird. Things became more interesting later in Lola’s life when she began to develop Alzheimer’s.

Aunt Lola lived in the country, and her husband, Uncle Buddy, had died a few years before. She eventually moved into residential care, but for a few years she lived alone in her home, just a few miles away from other family members who checked on her and entertained us with Aunt Lola stories.

If I appear to be approaching this in a lighthearted manner, it’s because Aunt Lola would prefer it. We were all concerned about her delusional thinking, memory loss, and confusion, but these issues didn’t bother her at all, and she spent most of her time laughing and cheering everyone else up.

She had several paranoid delusions, and the content of those delusions was the subject of most of Aunt Lola’s conversations.

“They came to get my Irish potatoes and returned them cooked!”

“Someone has fingered my chicken salad sandwiches in the refrigerator.”

“I turned the corner, and there he was—a man in an odd suit.”

She did not appear overly concerned as she told these stories of home invasions and clandestine food operations, was easily redirected, and usually gravitated toward some topic she thought was funny.

We were all laughing with her within a minute or two, sometimes to the point of tears.

Aunt Lola never took herself or her problems so seriously that she couldn’t laugh with friends and family. You couldn’t help but laugh when Aunt Lola did.

The laughter soon took on a life of its own, and you were left wondering what you had been laughing about.

In reality, it would have been difficult to visit Aunt Lola without having a good time. All we had to do was follow her lead and commit to going where she went.

We don’t have to be afraid of the concept of play. Even as we get older, we all need to play. It is a present-centered activity and mindset that requires a detachment from fear, judgment, and goal-directed planning in order to enjoy each moment in carefree gaiety. I had a great time playing with Aunt Lola!

Aunt Lola’s delusions faded as her disease progressed, and she was eventually admitted to a nursing home. Despite the fact that Alzheimer’s disease was gradually reducing her understanding, she was still full of joy and laughter. She still laughed and smiled, and she did so more heartily when others joined in.

I could tell she was weakening toward the end, and some of that spirit with which we had become so familiar began to fade a little. Laughter returned, albeit not with the same vigour, but her innate trait of seeking relationships, of reaching out from within herself to clasp the hand of another, never faded.

When laughter and joy are shared, they become more meaningful. Aunt Lola knew this deep down, and from that place, she continued to laugh and rejoice until the end.

Aunt Lola taught me that laughter and play are important in our lives at any age, and that I should never take myself or my personal issues too seriously.

 

 

A Brief Tour of the Positive Side of Dementia

(Marie)

I’m going to tell you two amusing Ed stories. He found them amusing as well, and we both laughed!

A Cunning Alzheimer’s Thief

Ed would carefully wipe his spoon clean with a napkin after finishing each meal at the Alois Center, then wrap it in another napkin, place it in the breast pocket of his sport coat, and take it back to his room.

Soon, spoons would be all over his room, so the staff would go get them and return them to the kitchen. But the next day, he would begin a new collection.

Finally, when he began his cleaning ritual, I told him, “Don’t take that spoon, Ed. It is not your property. It is the property of the Alois Center.”

“Oh, no!

” he exclaimed, loud enough for everyone to hear. “I take them every day without hesitation!” ”

We burst out laughing when he realized he’d said something amusing.

The Small Pillows

Ed snatched more than just spoons. In the lobby, there were sofas with small designer pillows on them. Ed was drawn to those little pillows (or ‘pee-lows,’ as he pronounced them) for some reason and developed the habit of bringing them back to his room.

Similarly to the spoons, the staff would go to his room on a regular basis and retrieve all of the small pillows and return them to the sofas. And, just like with the spoons, he’d start stealing them everywhere the next day.

I was sitting with him in the dining room one day when Ann, one of the kitchen staff members, came over to say hello.

“You really enjoy stealing your spoons, don’t you?” I asked Ed.

“He certainly does,” Ann confirmed.

Ed had a sly grin on his face at that moment.

“I don’t just steal spoons,” he boasted proudly in his thick Romanian accent. “I also r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r- ”

He started laughing, as did Ann and I, and you guessed it, he kept stealing the spoons and ‘pee-lows’!

 

 

Bring me some vodka!

 

(Marie)

 

I went to see Ed one day. I left when it was time for his dinner, walking him to the dining room on the way.

Marie, please bring me two bottles of Popov tomorrow,” Ed requested sweetly as we walked past the dining room.

Ed had always enjoyed drinking, and his favorite drink was vodka.

“I can’t, Ed,” I said, my body stiffening in anticipation of the dreadful scene that was about to unfold. “You are not permitted to consume vodka here.”

“Do you mean I’m not allowed to drink vodka?”

” He asked, perplexed.

He came to a halt and looked at me.

“Welcome to America!” I’m free to have whatever I want! ”

“I’m sorry, Ed,” I apologized, my voice trembling. “I’m afraid I can’t bring you any. That’s the rule around here.”

“I don’t require you!

” he yelled. “I’ll have someone else get it for me.” And you can be certain that I will remember this! ”

I grimaced. I didn’t want to cause a scene, and I knew I couldn’t win the battle, so I turned my back on him and rushed out, as much as it hurt. As I passed Alice, the aide who was setting the tables, I felt embarrassed.

When I went out to my car, I felt hurt. I felt sorry for Ed as I drove home. I knew how much he depended on his vodka, and I wondered if he’d ever be able to live without it.

Ed called me a few hours later and, as if nothing had happened between us, cheerfully asked for the address of “this place where I am ‘leev-ing.'”

I was pleased as I dug through my wallet for the social worker’s card. I took his desire to be oriented and know where he was as a good sign. I gave him the address, and he repeated it one letter and number at a time, which led me to believe he was writing it down, which I thought was a good thing.

I got it the moment I hung up the phone.

Oh, no! He’ll call Mr. Ellington, his ‘driver,’ and ask him to take him to the liquor store.

I dialed Ellington’s phone number as quickly as my fingers would allow and explained the situation. Mr. Ellington promised to inform Ed that his cab had broken down and that it would take him several days to arrive. Mr. Ellington was a sweetheart.

I must admit, I was relieved Ed was still awake enough to figure out how to get some vodka. Later, I checked with Ellington and discovered that Ed had indeed called him.

I met briefly with Michelle, the director of nursing, a few days later.

“By the way, Michelle,” I began, “you’ll never guess what Ed did the other night.” “He duped me into giving him this address, and then he called a cab to take him to the liquor store to buy some vodka!” I had the cab driver’s phone number, so I called him and told him not to come. “I’m not sure what would have happened if I hadn’t had his phone number.”

“Oh, Marie,” she laughed, leaning against her office doorway. “Never be concerned about anything like that. We’d never let Ed go out without first calling you.”

Then I burst out laughing as well.

 

 

Enough!

 

(Marie)

“Bingo!

” yelled a woman in a shrill voice.

Ed was smiling as I peered into the activity room. He was sitting on the far side of the long craft table, clearly having a good time. I didn’t want to ruin his fun, so I pulled up a chair and sat beside him, intending to simply observe. Martha, a tiny, adorable aide, spun the cage, picked up the ball, and announced the combination.

“B-6!

Ed examined his card carefully before singing sweetly, “Here ’tis!

” and used a red plastic marker to cover the appropriate square. To be honest, I was surprised, but pleased, that he could play without assistance.

Martha had Lucy and Sylvia seated on either side of her so she could lean over and assist them in finding the numbers on their cards. Betty, who was at least ninety and almost as thin as Ed, sat quietly among the players.

The game continued, and each time Ed had the correct number, he exclaimed melodically, “Here ’tis.”

I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this. Martha seemed to find it amusing as well, and she smiled at Ed every time he uttered his little refrain.

Every time she didn’t have the required letter and number, Sylvia yelled something in what I later learned was Portuguese in a disgruntled tone of voice. Ed was clearly becoming irritated with her.

Finally, I guess he’d had enough of her grumpiness because he exclaimed, loudly enough to be embarrassing, “I have one word to say!

“What exactly is it, Ed?”

” Martha inquired, a worried expression on her face.

“Enough!” he yelled, pointing his shaky finger at Sylvia.

He was correct. He had only one word to say. He was clearly aware that he’d said something amusing. We all laughed with Ed rather than at him.

 

 

Alzheimer’s patients can say the most outrageous things.

(Marie)

People with Alzheimer’s, in my experience, can say some pretty amusing things. Many times, the person is aware, and even proud, of having said something amusing. These are some of the most precious times we will ever have with our loved ones. Here are a few examples:

Ruth is the subject of my first stories. Ruth tells me the same stories every time I visit her, but she occasionally adds new information or twists some of them.

During one of my visits, she told me that the Army used to ‘bus’ young ladies to a base overseas on Friday nights to dance with the soldiers during WWII. (Of course, I didn’t tell her that they weren’t sent overseas.)

“I used to be one of those girls.” “I must say, unlike many of the men, I was a fantastic dancer,” she said. “Most of them couldn’t dance,” she went on, “so they just’stomped out’ a two-step.”

When she told me that, she imitated the men amusingly, stomping her feet up and down.

“When we girls arrived at the base, the men looked us up and down like they were shopping,” Ruth added.

That made both of us laugh out loud.

During a subsequent visit, she revealed, “My husband was an especially bad dancer.” “So bad,” she exclaimed, “I think he learned to dance in a barn.”

“See you later,” I said as I was leaving one of my visits to Ruth.

“Alligator,” she said, made me laugh.

So now, whenever I leave, we go through that little routine, even if I have to remind her at times.

Ethel was another. Ethel, my dear sweet, chatty Ethel. When I went to see her one day, she looked at me with interest and said, “I think you’re my age.”

Despite the fact that I am 20 years younger. I told one of the employees about it. She was mortified at first, but we both laughed about it afterwards.

One final example of amusing things said by people with Alzheimer’s involves one of my friends’ grandfather, George.

George appeared to be having a lot of difficulty driving.

“I’ll never stop driving,” he said emphatically.

As a result, my friend Sandra disabled George’s car. George, on the other hand, was still alert enough to call a mechanic to come and repair it.

Sandra had expected him to do so and had called his mechanic the day before.

“Please give Grandpa an explanation for not being able to fix the car,” she asked.

When George contacted the mechanic the following day, he was told, “Your car requires some parts that are only available on the internet.” It will be a long process.”

“Sandra, I have a job for you,” George told his granddaughter. Please drive me to the internet! ”

 

 

The National Spelling Bee

(Daniel)

Transitions in dementia care can be extremely difficult. Moving a loved one from their home to a long-term care facility, or from residential care to a hospital, or from acute care to acute care and back again, can be stressful for everyone involved.

Dementia patients prefer stability, familiarity, and routine, and they need to feel in control of their surroundings. As a result, this uprooting can set them back for a while, negatively impacting their behavior, mood, and mental clarity.

It is especially important to use any stress-reduction tools you have during these transitions. Role playing is one such tool.

It is critical that you are willing to enter the worlds of your loved ones, which will often be very different from yours.

For example, loved ones may believe they are living in the past and that relatives or friends who have died are still alive and in a relationship with them in the present.

According to Naomi Feil, the founder of Validation Therapy, this could be due to unmet needs.

“I want to see my mother,” your loved one may say. Perhaps he needs to be in a relationship with his mother and be comforted by someone he knows and understands; someone who loves him exactly as he is.

People with Alzheimer’s disease should be able to express their needs and be in care environments where their needs can be met in a nonjudgmental, safe, and supportive environment.

Likewise, loved ones may imagine themselves in a specific situation or activity from their past. It is critical that they be able to see themselves in this light as long as it is safe to do so and appears to be comforting to them.

During one of my father’s transitions, we were able to use the role-playing tool. Dad was living with my mother at home and attending an adult dementia daycare center. However, due to our safety concerns and Dad’s increased need for 24-hour care, we were forced to relocate him to a specialty care assisted living facility (SCALF).

Dad had to be interviewed by the staff as part of the intake and admission procedures for this facility. As part of the interview, the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE), which some of you may be familiar with, was administered.

Dad had taken the exam several times before during visits to other healthcare providers, but his response on that day and at that point in his journey with the condition provided our family with a subsequent opportunity to engage him through role playing.

Dad was asked standard questions like, “What day is it?” What month is it? What year is it? What’s the name of this place? This condition? ” etc.

When asked the following question, Dad’s response made us smile and welcomed us into our new roles in his world:

“Mr. “Spell WORLD backwards, Potts.”

Dad paused for a moment before responding, “BACKWARDS.” B-A-C-K-W-A-R-D-S…BACKWARDS.”

It’s a spelling bee! Dad was back in grammar school, competing in a spelling bee, and he seemed to be quite good at it. This was especially surprising given that he had already lost his ability to read and write.

Our daughters, who were in elementary school at the time, were the first to happily step into their roles.

“Spell ‘ALABAMA,’ Papa.”

“ALABAMA. A-L-A-B-A-M-A. ALABAMA.”

“Wonderful, Papa! “My Papa is a good speller,” our younger daughter boasted, beaming.

And now Papa was beaming, too.

As a result, we were assigned a new activity to complete during our subsequent visits to Papa in his new long-term care facility. This role-playing opportunity not only helped to ease the transition that day, but it also provided us with a fun activity to which we could return for many weeks afterwards. It appeared to be enjoyable for Dad and rarely failed to captivate him.

It also provided an opportunity to expand on the reminiscence theme, which is one of the most important in dementia caregiving.

Furthermore, it revealed Dad’s previously unknown talent for spelling at a time when many of his mental faculties were deteriorating. This validated his current situation and gave him confidence. Furthermore, it aided in the maintenance and strengthening of his relationships, particularly those with his grandchildren.

This is critical because the perceived loss of relationships may be the most significant of the many losses experienced by dementia patients and their families. I believe it is critical that people with dementia have opportunities to interact with children and young people, and this activity encouraged that type of interaction.

Be open to opportunities to enter his world and role play when navigating those inevitable transitions with your loved one. You might be surprised at how much joy such activities can bring.

 

 

Maria Has a New Walker

(Marie)

When I went to see Maria, I discovered her in the ‘Hearth Room,’ as they call it. Many of Clare Bridge’s social activities take place in this sort of combined dining room/lounge area.

Maria is a deeply religious lady who always has two rosaries with her, says the rosary twice a day, and is always doing little things around the place to help other residents and even the staff.

She was seated at a table with two other ladies, both of whom were elegantly dressed and appeared perplexed. Maria herself appeared angry, which I had never seen her before.

“Is something wrong, Maria?” I asked as I sat down beside her.

“No,” she said, as angry as she appeared.

I resigned myself to not knowing what had caused her bad mood, and I just sat there watching the two ladies eat the brownies they had been served as part of the ‘Mix and Mingle,’ which is a Thursday afternoon activity in which the residents sit at tables and have (or attempt to have) polite conversation with each other while eating the marvelous snacks they are served.

I noticed Maria had a walker parked in front of her at one point. I’d never seen anything like it before, and it was taped to a large piece of paper with extra-large handwriting.

“What’s that big note say, Maria?” I couldn’t quite read it from where I was sitting, so I asked.

She carefully read the note to me: “Maria must always have this walker with her.”

Without missing a beat, this proper lady looked up at me and exclaimed loudly, “That’s bull #%&$!

 

 

To the cemetery!

(Marie)

Clare Bridge was alive with holiday music as Christmas approached. Colorful wreaths were attached to the residents’ doors, and the lobby was adorned with a large, beautifully decorated Christmas tree.

I strolled down to Ruth’s room and opened her own wreathed door for me.

“Oh, it’s you!” she exclaimed. Come on in. How are you doing today? ”

Ruth doesn’t remember my name or that I come every Thursday, but she always recognizes me and knows I’m someone she likes seeing.

“I’m great,” I replied. “How are things going for you?” ”

“Oh, I’m fine, fine, fine,” she assured him.

I sat in her comfortable armchair at her request, while she sat across from me in one of her armless dining room chairs. She insisted on giving me the best seat in the house, her armchair. I’d given up trying to persuade her otherwise.

We were chatting away when she said, “I’m not sure how long I’m going to be here.”

“What are you doing?”

” I was perplexed by her statement.

“To the mortuary!” she exclaimed after a brief pause.

We both laughed. I told her that wasn’t true and that she shouldn’t speak in that manner.

Later on, I told her, “I’m not sure how long I’m going to be here.”

“Where in the world are you going?”

” she inquired.

“To the mortuary!” I exclaimed right away.

” We both burst out laughing, and I pointed to her and said, “Gotcha!

“You’ll be going there to say goodbye to me!” she said without missing a beat.

We then burst out laughing even harder than before. It was a truly enjoyable visit.

 

 

What if your kitchen caught fire?

(Marie)

I was with Ed at his apartment one day before he moved to the Alois Center. He opened his door to find a pretty young lady in her mid-20s standing there. He smiled and motioned for her to come in. “Good day!” Oh, I can’t wait to see you again. How are you doing? Come on in! Come on in! ” he explained to her.

The only problem was that Ed had never seen her before. That was pretty much the entire point of her visit. Kristi, the Alois Center’s director of admissions, was on hand to assess Ed for placement.

I’d warned her that I couldn’t guarantee he’d even let her in, let alone talk to her, so I was relieved he was agreeable that day.

Ed was completely unaware of why I’d scheduled this interview. I told him she was a friend of mine who worked in a nursing home and wanted to practice interviewing the elderly. This was just another white lie I had to tell him in order to get what I wanted and what he needed. Only because of his dementia did I have to do it, and only because of his dementia did I get away with it.

He sat in his recliner, which served as the living room’s focal point and from which he watched his favorite political talk shows.

Kristi sat on the sofa near Ed’s chair, her white summer dress flecked with small green flowers to match the freshness of the late August day. I sat at the far end of the sofa, not wanting to get involved, and planned to just observe.

Kristi explained why she was there in the first place. Ed didn’t seem to understand, but he was in a good mood and agreed to meet with her. I assumed it was primarily because she was so young and attractive. He adored all young and attractive women.

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

“Could you please tell me who the President is?”

“Boosh,” he exclaimed, grinning.

“Could you tell me what day it is today?”

He paused for a few seconds before slowly shifting his head downward while turning his left wrist inward slightly.

I’d be damned if I didn’t! His mind hasn’t completely vanished. He’s awake enough to notice the date on his Timex.

That gave me some solace. He gave the correct date, and we all laughed at his brilliance.

“What condition are we in?

” She went on.

He was perplexed and looked at me.

“I’m sorry, Ed,” I apologized. You must respond on your own.”

“I’m so sorry,” he said, returning his gaze to Kristi. “I honestly don’t remember. I believe it is Ohio. Alternatively, Cleveland.”

“All right,” she said. “In which country do we live?” ”

“America!

” He exclaimed with delight.

“That’s correct! Can you now count backwards by sevens from 100? ”

He had a blank expression on his face.

“How do you count?”

“Backwards.”

“I can count in English, Romanian, French, German, Russian, and Italian very well.”

“Can you count backwards from 100 in English by sevens?”

” she said again.

He gave me another look.

“I’m sorry, Ed, but I can’t assist you.”

“I don’t understand the question,” he said flusteredly to Kristi.

“It’s fine,” she said. “Let’s move on to the next one.”

“Certainly!

“Can you spell ‘world’ backwards?”

He paused for a moment before responding, “w – o – r – l – d.”

“That’s how you spell it, Ed. Can you spell it backwards, beginning with the final letter? ”

“Well, the last letter is ‘l,'” he replied.

I hoped I didn’t appear disappointed.

She kept asking questions and taking notes on everything he said.

“Ma-r-rie is such a good and dear old friend of mine,” he said in response to one of Kristi’s questions.

“I believe Marie adores you,” she said quietly.

Kristi then asked the final question: “What would you do if your kitchen caught fire?”

He paused for a moment, then a sly grin appeared on his face. “I’d call her,” he said proudly, stretching out his arm and pointing to me with his shaky finger.

It was clear that he was well aware that he’d said something amusing, and we all laughed again.

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We’ve arrived!

In my sobs

You noticed reflections of yourself.

You laughed at that.

Then I began to smile.

“Horton Discovers a Who!

” you stated,

and sparkled as if a child had heard.

We laughed until it was dark.

having discovered the hidden cache

Daniel

 

Lola and I are laughing.

(Daniel)

Everyone in town referred to her as ‘Aunt Lola,’ but no one knew who her real aunt was. She was entirely ours.

Aunt Lola, according to Dad, was always a fascinating bird. Things became more interesting later in Lola’s life when she began to develop Alzheimer’s.

Aunt Lola lived in the country, and her husband, Uncle Buddy, had died a few years before. She eventually moved into residential care, but for a few years she lived alone in her home, just a few miles away from other family members who checked on her and entertained us with Aunt Lola stories.

If I appear to be approaching this in a lighthearted manner, it’s because Aunt Lola would prefer it. We were all concerned about her delusional thinking, memory loss, and confusion, but these issues didn’t bother her at all, and she spent most of her time laughing and cheering everyone else up.

She had several paranoid delusions, and the content of those delusions was the subject of most of Aunt Lola’s conversations.

“They came to get my Irish potatoes and returned them cooked!”

“Someone has fingered my chicken salad sandwiches in the refrigerator.”

“I turned the corner, and there he was—a man in an odd suit.”

She did not appear overly concerned as she told these stories of home invasions and clandestine food operations, was easily redirected, and usually gravitated toward some topic she thought was funny.

We were all laughing with her within a minute or two, sometimes to the point of tears.

Aunt Lola never took herself or her problems so seriously that she couldn’t laugh with friends and family. You couldn’t help but laugh when Aunt Lola did.

The laughter soon took on a life of its own, and you were left wondering what you had been laughing about.

In reality, it would have been difficult to visit Aunt Lola without having a good time. All we had to do was follow her lead and commit to going where she went.

We don’t have to be afraid of the concept of play. Even as we get older, we all need to play. It is a present-centered activity and mindset that requires a detachment from fear, judgment, and goal-directed planning in order to enjoy each moment in carefree gaiety. I had a great time playing with Aunt Lola!

Aunt Lola’s delusions faded as her disease progressed, and she was eventually admitted to a nursing home. Despite the fact that Alzheimer’s disease was gradually reducing her understanding, she was still full of joy and laughter. She still laughed and smiled, and she did so more heartily when others joined in.

I could tell she was weakening toward the end, and some of that spirit with which we had become so familiar began to fade a little. Laughter returned, albeit not with the same vigour, but her innate trait of seeking relationships, of reaching out from within herself to clasp the hand of another, never faded.

When laughter and joy are shared, they become more meaningful. Aunt Lola knew this deep down, and from that place, she continued to laugh and rejoice until the end.

Aunt Lola taught me that laughter and play are important in our lives at any age, and that I should never take myself or my personal issues too seriously.

 

 

A Brief Tour of the Positive Side of Dementia

(Marie)

I’m going to tell you two amusing Ed stories. He found them amusing as well, and we both laughed!

A Cunning Alzheimer’s Thief

Ed would carefully wipe his spoon clean with a napkin after finishing each meal at the Alois Center, then wrap it in another napkin, place it in the breast pocket of his sport coat, and take it back to his room.

Soon, spoons would be all over his room, so the staff would go get them and return them to the kitchen. But the next day, he would begin a new collection.

Finally, when he began his cleaning ritual, I told him, “Don’t take that spoon, Ed. It is not your property. It is the property of the Alois Center.”

“Oh, no!

” he exclaimed, loud enough for everyone to hear. “I take them every day without hesitation!” ”

We burst out laughing when he realized he’d said something amusing.

The Small Pillows

Ed snatched more than just spoons. In the lobby, there were sofas with small designer pillows on them. Ed was drawn to those little pillows (or ‘pee-lows,’ as he pronounced them) for some reason and developed the habit of bringing them back to his room.

Similarly to the spoons, the staff would go to his room on a regular basis and retrieve all of the small pillows and return them to the sofas. And, just like with the spoons, he’d start stealing them everywhere the next day.

I was sitting with him in the dining room one day when Ann, one of the kitchen staff members, came over to say hello.

“You really enjoy stealing your spoons, don’t you?” I asked Ed.

“He certainly does,” Ann confirmed.

Ed had a sly grin on his face at that moment.

“I don’t just steal spoons,” he boasted proudly in his thick Romanian accent. “I also r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r- ”

He started laughing, as did Ann and I, and you guessed it, he kept stealing the spoons and ‘pee-lows’!

 

 

Bring me some vodka!

 

(Marie)

 

I went to see Ed one day. I left when it was time for his dinner, walking him to the dining room on the way.

Marie, please bring me two bottles of Popov tomorrow,” Ed requested sweetly as we walked past the dining room.

Ed had always enjoyed drinking, and his favorite drink was vodka.

“I can’t, Ed,” I said, my body stiffening in anticipation of the dreadful scene that was about to unfold. “You are not permitted to consume vodka here.”

“Do you mean I’m not allowed to drink vodka?”

” He asked, perplexed.

He came to a halt and looked at me.

“Welcome to America!” I’m free to have whatever I want! ”

“I’m sorry, Ed,” I apologized, my voice trembling. “I’m afraid I can’t bring you any. That’s the rule around here.”

“I don’t require you!

” he yelled. “I’ll have someone else get it for me.” And you can be certain that I will remember this! ”

I grimaced. I didn’t want to cause a scene, and I knew I couldn’t win the battle, so I turned my back on him and rushed out, as much as it hurt. As I passed Alice, the aide who was setting the tables, I felt embarrassed.

When I went out to my car, I felt hurt. I felt sorry for Ed as I drove home. I knew how much he depended on his vodka, and I wondered if he’d ever be able to live without it.

Ed called me a few hours later and, as if nothing had happened between us, cheerfully asked for the address of “this place where I am ‘leev-ing.'”

I was pleased as I dug through my wallet for the social worker’s card. I took his desire to be oriented and know where he was as a good sign. I gave him the address, and he repeated it one letter and number at a time, which led me to believe he was writing it down, which I thought was a good thing.

I got it the moment I hung up the phone.

Oh, no! He’ll call Mr. Ellington, his ‘driver,’ and ask him to take him to the liquor store.

I dialed Ellington’s phone number as quickly as my fingers would allow and explained the situation. Mr. Ellington promised to inform Ed that his cab had broken down and that it would take him several days to arrive. Mr. Ellington was a sweetheart.

I must admit, I was relieved Ed was still awake enough to figure out how to get some vodka. Later, I checked with Ellington and discovered that Ed had indeed called him.

I met briefly with Michelle, the director of nursing, a few days later.

“By the way, Michelle,” I began, “you’ll never guess what Ed did the other night.” “He duped me into giving him this address, and then he called a cab to take him to the liquor store to buy some vodka!” I had the cab driver’s phone number, so I called him and told him not to come. “I’m not sure what would have happened if I hadn’t had his phone number.”

“Oh, Marie,” she laughed, leaning against her office doorway. “Never be concerned about anything like that. We’d never let Ed go out without first calling you.”

Then I burst out laughing as well.

 

 

Enough!

 

(Marie)

“Bingo!

” yelled a woman in a shrill voice.

Ed was smiling as I peered into the activity room. He was sitting on the far side of the long craft table, clearly having a good time. I didn’t want to ruin his fun, so I pulled up a chair and sat beside him, intending to simply observe. Martha, a tiny, adorable aide, spun the cage, picked up the ball, and announced the combination.

“B-6!

Ed examined his card carefully before singing sweetly, “Here ’tis!

” and used a red plastic marker to cover the appropriate square. To be honest, I was surprised, but pleased, that he could play without assistance.

Martha had Lucy and Sylvia seated on either side of her so she could lean over and assist them in finding the numbers on their cards. Betty, who was at least ninety and almost as thin as Ed, sat quietly among the players.

The game continued, and each time Ed had the correct number, he exclaimed melodically, “Here ’tis.”

I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this. Martha seemed to find it amusing as well, and she smiled at Ed every time he uttered his little refrain.

Every time she didn’t have the required letter and number, Sylvia yelled something in what I later learned was Portuguese in a disgruntled tone of voice. Ed was clearly becoming irritated with her.

Finally, I guess he’d had enough of her grumpiness because he exclaimed, loudly enough to be embarrassing, “I have one word to say!

“What exactly is it, Ed?”

” Martha inquired, a worried expression on her face.

“Enough!” he yelled, pointing his shaky finger at Sylvia.

He was correct. He had only one word to say. He was clearly aware that he’d said something amusing. We all laughed with Ed rather than at him.

 

 

Alzheimer’s patients can say the most outrageous things.

(Marie)

People with Alzheimer’s, in my experience, can say some pretty amusing things. Many times, the person is aware, and even proud, of having said something amusing. These are some of the most precious times we will ever have with our loved ones. Here are a few examples:

Ruth is the subject of my first stories. Ruth tells me the same stories every time I visit her, but she occasionally adds new information or twists some of them.

During one of my visits, she told me that the Army used to ‘bus’ young ladies to a base overseas on Friday nights to dance with the soldiers during WWII. (Of course, I didn’t tell her that they weren’t sent overseas.)

“I used to be one of those girls.” “I must say, unlike many of the men, I was a fantastic dancer,” she said. “Most of them couldn’t dance,” she went on, “so they just’stomped out’ a two-step.”

When she told me that, she imitated the men amusingly, stomping her feet up and down.

“When we girls arrived at the base, the men looked us up and down like they were shopping,” Ruth added.

That made both of us laugh out loud.

During a subsequent visit, she revealed, “My husband was an especially bad dancer.” “So bad,” she exclaimed, “I think he learned to dance in a barn.”

“See you later,” I said as I was leaving one of my visits to Ruth.

“Alligator,” she said, made me laugh.

So now, whenever I leave, we go through that little routine, even if I have to remind her at times.

Ethel was another. Ethel, my dear sweet, chatty Ethel. When I went to see her one day, she looked at me with interest and said, “I think you’re my age.”

Despite the fact that I am 20 years younger. I told one of the employees about it. She was mortified at first, but we both laughed about it afterwards.

One final example of amusing things said by people with Alzheimer’s involves one of my friends’ grandfather, George.

George appeared to be having a lot of difficulty driving.

“I’ll never stop driving,” he said emphatically.

As a result, my friend Sandra disabled George’s car. George, on the other hand, was still alert enough to call a mechanic to come and repair it.

Sandra had expected him to do so and had called his mechanic the day before.

“Please give Grandpa an explanation for not being able to fix the car,” she asked.

When George contacted the mechanic the following day, he was told, “Your car requires some parts that are only available on the internet.” It will be a long process.”

“Sandra, I have a job for you,” George told his granddaughter. Please drive me to the internet! ”

 

 

The National Spelling Bee

(Daniel)

Transitions in dementia care can be extremely difficult. Moving a loved one from their home to a long-term care facility, or from residential care to a hospital, or from acute care to acute care and back again, can be stressful for everyone involved.

Dementia patients prefer stability, familiarity, and routine, and they need to feel in control of their surroundings. As a result, this uprooting can set them back for a while, negatively impacting their behavior, mood, and mental clarity.

It is especially important to use any stress-reduction tools you have during these transitions. Role playing is one such tool.

It is critical that you are willing to enter the worlds of your loved ones, which will often be very different from yours.

For example, loved ones may believe they are living in the past and that relatives or friends who have died are still alive and in a relationship with them in the present.

According to Naomi Feil, the founder of Validation Therapy, this could be due to unmet needs.

“I want to see my mother,” your loved one may say. Perhaps he needs to be in a relationship with his mother and be comforted by someone he knows and understands; someone who loves him exactly as he is.

People with Alzheimer’s disease should be able to express their needs and be in care environments where their needs can be met in a nonjudgmental, safe, and supportive environment.

Likewise, loved ones may imagine themselves in a specific situation or activity from their past. It is critical that they be able to see themselves in this light as long as it is safe to do so and appears to be comforting to them.

During one of my father’s transitions, we were able to use the role-playing tool. Dad was living with my mother at home and attending an adult dementia daycare center. However, due to our safety concerns and Dad’s increased need for 24-hour care, we were forced to relocate him to a specialty care assisted living facility (SCALF).

Dad had to be interviewed by the staff as part of the intake and admission procedures for this facility. As part of the interview, the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE), which some of you may be familiar with, was administered.

Dad had taken the exam several times before during visits to other healthcare providers, but his response on that day and at that point in his journey with the condition provided our family with a subsequent opportunity to engage him through role playing.

Dad was asked standard questions like, “What day is it?” What month is it? What year is it? What’s the name of this place? This condition? ” etc.

When asked the following question, Dad’s response made us smile and welcomed us into our new roles in his world:

“Mr. “Spell WORLD backwards, Potts.”

Dad paused for a moment before responding, “BACKWARDS.” B-A-C-K-W-A-R-D-S…BACKWARDS.”

It’s a spelling bee! Dad was back in grammar school, competing in a spelling bee, and he seemed to be quite good at it. This was especially surprising given that he had already lost his ability to read and write.

Our daughters, who were in elementary school at the time, were the first to happily step into their roles.

“Spell ‘ALABAMA,’ Papa.”

“ALABAMA. A-L-A-B-A-M-A. ALABAMA.”

“Wonderful, Papa! “My Papa is a good speller,” our younger daughter boasted, beaming.

And now Papa was beaming, too.

As a result, we were assigned a new activity to complete during our subsequent visits to Papa in his new long-term care facility. This role-playing opportunity not only helped to ease the transition that day, but it also provided us with a fun activity to which we could return for many weeks afterwards. It appeared to be enjoyable for Dad and rarely failed to captivate him.

It also provided an opportunity to expand on the reminiscence theme, which is one of the most important in dementia caregiving.

Furthermore, it revealed Dad’s previously unknown talent for spelling at a time when many of his mental faculties were deteriorating. This validated his current situation and gave him confidence. Furthermore, it aided in the maintenance and strengthening of his relationships, particularly those with his grandchildren.

This is critical because the perceived loss of relationships may be the most significant of the many losses experienced by dementia patients and their families. I believe it is critical that people with dementia have opportunities to interact with children and young people, and this activity encouraged that type of interaction.

Be open to opportunities to enter his world and role play when navigating those inevitable transitions with your loved one. You might be surprised at how much joy such activities can bring.

 

 

Maria Has a New Walker

(Marie)

When I went to see Maria, I discovered her in the ‘Hearth Room,’ as they call it. Many of Clare Bridge’s social activities take place in this sort of combined dining room/lounge area.

Maria is a deeply religious lady who always has two rosaries with her, says the rosary twice a day, and is always doing little things around the place to help other residents and even the staff.

She was seated at a table with two other ladies, both of whom were elegantly dressed and appeared perplexed. Maria herself appeared angry, which I had never seen her before.

“Is something wrong, Maria?” I asked as I sat down beside her.

“No,” she said, as angry as she appeared.

I resigned myself to not knowing what had caused her bad mood, and I just sat there watching the two ladies eat the brownies they had been served as part of the ‘Mix and Mingle,’ which is a Thursday afternoon activity in which the residents sit at tables and have (or attempt to have) polite conversation with each other while eating the marvelous snacks they are served.

I noticed Maria had a walker parked in front of her at one point. I’d never seen anything like it before, and it was taped to a large piece of paper with extra-large handwriting.

“What’s that big note say, Maria?” I couldn’t quite read it from where I was sitting, so I asked.

She carefully read the note to me: “Maria must always have this walker with her.”

Without missing a beat, this proper lady looked up at me and exclaimed loudly, “That’s bull #%&$!

 

 

To the cemetery!

(Marie)

Clare Bridge was alive with holiday music as Christmas approached. Colorful wreaths were attached to the residents’ doors, and the lobby was adorned with a large, beautifully decorated Christmas tree.

I strolled down to Ruth’s room and opened her own wreathed door for me.

“Oh, it’s you!” she exclaimed. Come on in. How are you doing today? ”

Ruth doesn’t remember my name or that I come every Thursday, but she always recognizes me and knows I’m someone she likes seeing.

“I’m great,” I replied. “How are things going for you?” ”

“Oh, I’m fine, fine, fine,” she assured him.

I sat in her comfortable armchair at her request, while she sat across from me in one of her armless dining room chairs. She insisted on giving me the best seat in the house, her armchair. I’d given up trying to persuade her otherwise.

We were chatting away when she said, “I’m not sure how long I’m going to be here.”

“What are you doing?”

” I was perplexed by her statement.

“To the mortuary!” she exclaimed after a brief pause.

We both laughed. I told her that wasn’t true and that she shouldn’t speak in that manner.

Later on, I told her, “I’m not sure how long I’m going to be here.”

“Where in the world are you going?”

” she inquired.

“To the mortuary!” I exclaimed right away.

” We both burst out laughing, and I pointed to her and said, “Gotcha!

“You’ll be going there to say goodbye to me!” she said without missing a beat.

We then burst out laughing even harder than before. It was a truly enjoyable visit.

 

 

What if your kitchen caught fire?

(Marie)

I was with Ed at his apartment one day before he moved to the Alois Center. He opened his door to find a pretty young lady in her mid-20s standing there. He smiled and motioned for her to come in. “Good day!” Oh, I can’t wait to see you again. How are you doing? Come on in! Come on in! ” he explained to her.

The only problem was that Ed had never seen her before. That was pretty much the entire point of her visit. Kristi, the Alois Center’s director of admissions, was on hand to assess Ed for placement.

I’d warned her that I couldn’t guarantee he’d even let her in, let alone talk to her, so I was relieved he was agreeable that day.

Ed was completely unaware of why I’d scheduled this interview. I told him she was a friend of mine who worked in a nursing home and wanted to practice interviewing the elderly. This was just another white lie I had to tell him in order to get what I wanted and what he needed. Only because of his dementia did I have to do it, and only because of his dementia did I get away with it.

He sat in his recliner, which served as the living room’s focal point and from which he watched his favorite political talk shows.

Kristi sat on the sofa near Ed’s chair, her white summer dress flecked with small green flowers to match the freshness of the late August day. I sat at the far end of the sofa, not wanting to get involved, and planned to just observe.

Kristi explained why she was there in the first place. Ed didn’t seem to understand, but he was in a good mood and agreed to meet with her. I assumed it was primarily because she was so young and attractive. He adored all young and attractive women.

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

“Could you please tell me who the President is?”

“Boosh,” he exclaimed, grinning.

“Could you tell me what day it is today?”

He paused for a few seconds before slowly shifting his head downward while turning his left wrist inward slightly.

I’d be damned if I didn’t! His mind hasn’t completely vanished. He’s awake enough to notice the date on his Timex.

That gave me some solace. He gave the correct date, and we all laughed at his brilliance.

“What condition are we in?

” She went on.

He was perplexed and looked at me.

“I’m sorry, Ed,” I apologized. You must respond on your own.”

“I’m so sorry,” he said, returning his gaze to Kristi. “I honestly don’t remember. I believe it is Ohio. Alternatively, Cleveland.”

“All right,” she said. “In which country do we live?” ”

“America!

” He exclaimed with delight.

“That’s correct! Can you now count backwards by sevens from 100? ”

He had a blank expression on his face.

“How do you count?”

“Backwards.”

“I can count in English, Romanian, French, German, Russian, and Italian very well.”

“Can you count backwards from 100 in English by sevens?”

” she said again.

He gave me another look.

“I’m sorry, Ed, but I can’t assist you.”

“I don’t understand the question,” he said flusteredly to Kristi.

“It’s fine,” she said. “Let’s move on to the next one.”

“Certainly!

“Can you spell ‘world’ backwards?”

He paused for a moment before responding, “w – o – r – l – d.”

“That’s how you spell it, Ed. Can you spell it backwards, beginning with the final letter? ”

“Well, the last letter is ‘l,'” he replied.

I hoped I didn’t appear disappointed.

She kept asking questions and taking notes on everything he said.

“Ma-r-rie is such a good and dear old friend of mine,” he said in response to one of Kristi’s questions.

“I believe Marie adores you,” she said quietly.

Kristi then asked the final question: “What would you do if your kitchen caught fire?”

He paused for a moment, then a sly grin appeared on his face. “I’d call her,” he said proudly, stretching out his arm and pointing to me with his shaky finger.

It was clear that he was well aware that he’d said something amusing, and we all laughed again.

 

 

Alzheimer’s in the Philippines…

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189 alzheimers
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alzheimers couple mhtc

 

 

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