Fun facts: Did you know that modern insulin, as used by the vast majority of patients with diabetes, was made by essentially corrupting the DNA of E.Coli into a usable chemical? Botox, a very helpful therapeutic and cosmetic drug was created working with botulism toxin. What, were no rattlesnake fangs available to milk for some cold medicine, Doctor Geniuspants???
My understanding of what possessed these brilliant men and women to even consider these substances as a possible treatment or cure for something (or even see any possible good in them) is limited by the short leash that shackles my brain.
Can we learn something from their odd wisdom regarding Alzheimer’s? I think so.
Alzheimer’s sucks. No sugarcoating it. My mom is dying as are what is left of the Sweet 17. Dying quickly, I might add.
How can we find beauty in this poison? As amazing Alzheimer’s guru Teepa Snow might say, how can we get a glimpse of the pearl inside of the ugly oyster?
1. Love the patient with no expectation of obvious reciprocity or tangible gain. One of my favorites of the Sweet 17 hasn’t never said a word to me, but smiles and claps sometimes when I say her name and smile at her. She also whistles…That is worth more to me than a batch of her cookies or a big hug.
2. Watch closely. If your loved one is in a nursing home, learn names and use them. Smile and greet patients. Hug ones who like hugs. Buy gifts. Serve them…then watch. I see reactions all the time. We have no clue what is going on inside of their minds besides what we see in their reactions. I hope, for all I am worth, that decades of enjoying niceness has left remnants of the typical responses. There is good to be found among the non good. There just has to be.
3. Listen closely. Talk to the patient/loved one, not at or over them. My mom gets frustrated when I ask her to repeat something she said, largely because she has already forgotten it. Listen and be empathetic. Don’t correct them. Don’t quiz them. Listen. Listen like they are a toddler just learning to speak, if that helps. Lovingly listen to them through the baby babble and commend them all the more when they say something you understand. Talk to them slowly and clearly whether or not you get a typical response. Sometimes I get responses. Some are great, some don’t make sense…but all have a purpose to my mom.
4. Don’t give up. Don’t let this stupid disease take you down with it. Learn. Grow. Advocate. Give. Serve.
I am not a Pollyanna. I am not even inherently positive. But this I know…you will never find the good by focusing on the bad. The e. Coli and botulism handlers get it. So should we. 🙂
Mom was a mess for the first hour tonight, but started softening up the longer I stayed. Her head bump was made worse today by another minor fall that whacked her glasses. Her hand is slowly improving. Speech was word salad for the most part peppered with a couple dashes of anxiety. She also had some fun/funny statements and gave a couple nice hugs. We finished with her playing the piano…One Day at a Time, about 10 times. Not sure if she was telling me something with her repeatedly played that ole tune?
Always lots of ups and downs at the memory unit. Never dull… 🙂
1 thought on “Watching and Looking”
My father died of dementia two years ago. I learned so much from this disease. I learned so much from spending time with him as he was disappearing. I learned how very important it was— the thousands of stories he told me before dementia—and the opportunity I had to tell them back to him after dementia . Thank you for sharing your experience. Finding beauty in this disease is like a mysterious puzzle calling us all to see things from angles we didn’t even know existed.
Comments are closed.