The Observation Deck – Another Visit With Alzheimer’s Disease
By Lori La Bey of Alzheimer’s Speaks and Senior Lifestyle Trends
The other day I stopped up to visit my Mother in the nursing home. I try to go around dinner time as she is usually awake around that time. When I pulled a chair up next to her, staff told me she had been very quiet all day long. Not much for eye contact let alone a smile or giggle.
I said my typical opening statement as I touched her and gave her a kiss. I have found over the years with Alzheimer’s disease, following a routine can be helpful and reduce her fears. It’s like her unconscious mind knows what to expect from me and she typically won’t jump or get frightened when I approach. Hearing my voice in the same tone, the same pattern, using the same phrase I think is reassuring for her; but in truth I will never really know.
I try hard to observe her reactions to everything that takes place when I am with her. This means everything from the sound levels, to tones and patterns, to back ground noises… I keep an eye on the lighting levels and how she reacts to changes. When she is eating I try to focus on her facial expressions. Is she enjoying it? Does it appear to be too hot or cold? Is it sour or spicy? Does her mouth pop open before the spoon gets there? How does she know it is there when her eyes are closed? Does she smell it? Does she feel the heat from the food? How is she connecting the dots?
You see it these small things that matter. When we understand what, when and how things are being processed by them, we can then be better caregivers. I suggest everyone sits quietly and watch and listen to the world around us. You will be amazed at what you observe and learn. You will find such small simple things that bring them satisfaction and pleasure. In turn you will be filled with joy.
Today as I sat and fed Mom she came to life. I was grateful for the smiles and soft giggles even though short lived, they were part of my visit today, part of my connection with her, part of my memories I will cherish forever.