Sunday, May 30, 2010

Alzheimer's Caregiver Lament -- I can't take her out because she eats with her hands

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Front Row

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The positive effects of socialization, initiative, and motivation on the part of Alzheimer's sufferers and their caregiver should not be overlooked. I believe these are as important as the medication......
My name is Bob DeMarco, I am an Alzheimer's caregiver. My mother Dorothy, now 93 years old, suffers from Alzheimer's disease. We live our life one day at a time.

I can't tell you how many times I either heard or read these words -- I can't take him/her out because she eats with her hands. I know this -- it is a big problem among Alzheimer's caregivers.

To be honest, I never worried about this. My attitude more or less is -- so be it.

I am not the kind of person that wants to give someone else when we are around in public a bad day. In others words, I understand if I were to take my mother out in public, and she ate with her hands, it might be disconcerting to others. It is not likely they would assume my mother is suffering from Alzheimer's, and as a result, they would likely conclude she is -- (you fill in the blank).

When I first met someone in person that lamented that they couldn't take their loved one out because they ate with there hands I was disturbed. I doubt anyone understands better than I do how a trip out into the 'real' world can benefit a person suffering from Alzheimer's.

There is also a big benefit for the Alzheimer's caregiver -- they get to leave Alzheimer's world, and reattach themselves to the 'real world'. This is vitally important.

I am willing to bet that at least a handful of you have heard the lament -- I can't take him/her out.....

Time for a trip into the Alzheimer's bunkhouse.

The problem -- they eat with their hands.

Bunkhouse logic solution -- eat finger food.

Many of you know that when I take my mother out we usually go to an open air bar/restaurant. A place where we can mingle with other people, and where there is a good amount of social interaction.

When we go out we usually eat things like chicken wings, burgers, chicken fingers, fries, and shrimp. You can eat all of these foods with your hands, and nobody is going to conclude that you failed Etiquette 101.

I never spent one second worrying about what other people would think about my mother or me. I understand this does make me a bit unique.

I can assure you, I am not going to be embarrassed by anything my mother does in public, and I am not going to be embarrassed for her.

Sooner or later you have to accept and understand that it is easier to accept Alzheimer's world then do the impossible and change Alzheimer's world into Real world. Once you accept that you live in Alzheimer's world even thought you don't have Alzheimer's, it will change your perspective. It will give you a strength and courage to accept the ways things are -- and stop fighting yourself.

As many of you know, on my trip down Alzheimer's lane I finally realized it was time to start living our life as we always had. One day at a time. One activity at a time. The same way we lived before the Alzheimer's diagnosis came.

As a result, I started taking my mother out to eat and into public venues. I learned early on how much this benefited her. It took me a while to figure out it also benefited me in my role as a Alzheimer's caregivers.

What can I say -- try it, you'll like it.

Here is tip that might help you get started.

Most McDonald's have tables and umbrellas outside the restaurant. You can sit around having a burger, fries, a coffee, or an ice cream cone. It is likely that there will be others sitting out there also. If you are lucky there will be some kids around. An added benefit.

You might get lucky like we do. Often a little bird flies up and lands on the ground. My mothers finds this fascinating, and it gives us something to talk about.

Some people might call this thinking outside the box. I call it bunkhouse logic. Keep it simple. More often than not, simple is the best of all possible solutions.

Please feel free to comment and share this article with someone that can benefit from the information.

If you have any additional ideas or tips, please tell us about them in the comments box below this article (on the website).

More About the Alzheimer's Reading Room
Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,400 articles with more than 9,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

The Alzheimer's Action Plan
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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room

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