Danger Will Robinson, Danger!

Connecting the Dots    Illustration by Harry Pulver
Connecting the Dots Illustration by Harry Pulver

Danger Will Robinson, Danger!           By Lori La Bey

Like many Alzheimer’s patients, my mother cannot connect the dots anymore.  If I told her to point to her nose, she might wiggle her finger, or bend a knee.   She cannot differentiate between harm and help.  It is like she thinks she is being abused. 

Picture yourself sitting in a chair all day long.  Your body stiff, and sore.  You eyesight blurry, and unclear.  You see figures, but can’t make out who is with you or where you are.   You know someone is talking, but none of it makes sense.  All of a sudden, with no warning, someone grabs you.  They are trying to pick you up, move you.  Your mind spins.  The red flashing light goes off in your head, screaming, Warning, Warning, Danger, Will Robinson, Danger  You ask, “Who is there?” but get no understandable answer.  The jibber jabber continues, but nothing makes sense.  What are they doing?  Who is there? Why are they grabbing me?  Where are they taking me? Screams your mind.   This is when mom’s fear takes over, and she starts to fight.  The disease, to me, is about survival and feeling safe.

So think about it.  When we get scared, we want to fight or flee.  The difference with a person with Alzheimer’s is they cannot run away.  They are just left with fight, to survive.  When they are not able to connect the dots, it is like speaking a foreign language to them.  Add in grooming and generational standards like being naked in front of a stranger and WOW, POW, that’s it.  We have to remember their reactions are based on three things:  circumstances, conditions and their perceptions.  It is not a personal attack on us; actually, it is just the opposite.  They are the ones feeling attacked!

3 Replies to “Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”

  1. I agree and at times its hard to understand that or make sense of it,how ever bad it is for us,its worse for them.

    Moms been better the last few days,and has been talking a little and she has been saying/complaining how her life isnt the same anymore and so on.

  2. At the nursing home, I taped a note on the wall above my mother’s bedside table. It said, “My mother is legally blind. Please talk to her before doing anything so she isn’t startled.”

    It has helped some, and she gets very compassionate care where she is, but they don’t always read it.

    1. HI Carla,
      I think that is great! Good thinking. You may want the nursing home to post a note in there log as well for shift changes and ask for it to be communicated to all staff including: activities, personal care, housekeeping, maintenance, food service. We did a similar thing for having music on in my Mother’s room. Asking that it be on “HER” channel and not staffs, and that it be on all the time. We have found for my Mom, anyways, music calms her down and keeps her peacefull and happy. People just don’t realize the impact they have on others, especially memory loss patients, be it staff or family and friends.

      Thanks for you comment


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