FOR GREGORY. He was not a VICTIM of ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, he was a HERO!
PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
When I arrive at Lieberman to see Gregory, he lights up and smiles and is happy. We hug and kiss or give a forehead "boink" as Gregory calls it. And I am happy.
Some days if he is not feeling well or is sleepy he has a hard time focusing on me having arrived. Still I hold on to my joy and refuse to revisit or seek the past of who we were or what we have been through, good or bad.
The staff always are cheerful and enjoy my greeting or send one my way first. I always make sure they know how much I appreciate them and what they do for Gregory as well as all the residents under their care.
I can reach out and offer my hand to one of my many family/friends/residents at Lieberman. For a number of them, my presence or arrival evokes a smile, a wave, a nod, a salute.
For others, a touch can mean so much to someone for whom outside stimulus is not readily available. A smile sometimes evokes a smile returned.
"How are you today?" I ask and usually get a smile or an "OK." If the answer is "Not so good." I can empathize and hope that tomorrow will be better.
But mostly, the residents are not too down and do not obsess. For some however, obsession and/or negativity is the way they interact with their world and maybe that is "OK" too?
The simple act of snapping a napkin around Martha's neck, cutting up Batia's food, offering to help feed Harun (with the usual "FUCK YOU!" You are dirty!) all bring joy.
How hard is it to make a peanut butter sandwich for Bill who usually doesn't like the day's offering? What does it take to tell Gerri that her son Howard says hello and sends his love and when asked where he is, fibbing that he is still at work?
Every time I get off the elevator, Mini is sitting there. Every time she asks, "Who are you?" "Why are you here?" "Where do you live?" "When is dinner." These is the only conversation I have had with her. Mini is 100 years old.
Betty's favorite comment is: "I want to go to my room." or "I want to go to bed." The usual reply is "OK. Why don't you eat a little more dinner and then you can go to bed." Sometimes it works. Most of the times brings, "I don't want it. I want to go to my room."
When one of the residents asks for help it is safer to refer the request to one of the Resident Care Associates. I've learned that there are some requests I can fulfill like bringing an extra napkin or getting more juice (making sure it has the correct level of thickening for that resident.)
A common request in the dining room or while watching TV in one of the wings, "I want to go to the bathroom. Or "Take me out of here." I have learned to offer, "You're next. The helper will get you next." It usually works and works fairly well because the element of "time" and/or "next" doesn't really exist for many of the residents.
Some of the family/friends/residents are so far progressed with their dementia that they are not at all present but I find that sometimes a "Hello" or touch does make a connection. I keep trying.
These are just a few of the opportunities that present themselves. And I am grateful for each interaction. I enjoy being with Gregory at Lieberman and look forward to my visits.