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, June 6, 2015

Behind the Door

This is the door to Gregory's room at Lieberman Center. All of the rooms at the center are private which is fortunate for the residents.

When it is time for Gregory to be changed from a poo or pee, two RCAs (Resident Care Associates) bring the Hoyer Lift into his room (he needs to be transferred to the bed by a lift machine) and close the door.

Manny is the third person in the room to provide continuity, a friendly face (not that the RCAs have unfriendly faces,) and to provide a calming influence while the RCAs proceed with the work of changing Gregory.

When I am there, I do not stay in the room but step out and sit in the hall. Sometimes it is all I can do to stay seated and not burst into the room!

Gregory is not completely cooperative with his changing. He is uncomfortable, frightened at times, and possibly in some pain with the lifting and rolling and cleaning of skin. He shouts out loudly, stiffens his body, and at times swears.

His "responsive behaviors" can be frightening to someone listening, often cause the RCAs extra work and care, but must be recognized for what they are: Gregory responding to the experience without the use of language available to him.

How would you like to be hoisted in the air, swung over to the bed, dropped in place, get your wet/dirty clothes pulled off, get rolled this way and that, have many people in the room as you lie there naked, have your privates cleaned, get a new set of "paper pants," have new clean clothes pulled on, get hoisted up again, and dropped back into your wheel chair. YOU WOULD YELL TOO!

According to Manny much of the "noise" Gregory makes is due to what is going on in his head, not necessarily because of pain or discomfort. "OUCH! DAM IT! GET AWAY! NO,NO,NO! OH GOD! I WON'T" are some of the expletives. Now and then Gregory growls and often he laughs as part of the routine.

When it is over and done, and the door is open, I get up and go into the room, thanking the RCAs and renewing with Gregory the knowledge of my presence. "Hi love. I am back. You did a good job."

After a few minutes Gregory is calm and back to "normal." It is as if the ordeal never happened. And that is part of the blessing of dementia, Gregory no longer holds on to the event and gets on with whatever is next, like a drink of water, a piece of chocolate, or turning on the TV.


  1. Michael, I was thinking about this whole experience of "toileting" last night and how humiliating and frightening us must be for someone with dementia. I just can't imagine it really. And it's hardly surprising that people "resist" like Gregory does. As you say, who wouldn't!?

    He is so lucky to have such a loving and committed partner. He is truly blessed. And so are you for holding his hand through this journey. XOX Susan

    1. Thank you Susan. Yes, both Gregory and I are blessed as we continue this journey or should I say "ride?" Ride if only because sometimes the best we can do is sit tight, hold on, and hold hands, and endure the bumps, jerks, and turns.

      I did not mention that Gregory is 6'7" and weighs 190. He is a "Big Boy" as I used to call him.

      I am about to write about DRUGS in a favorable way in relation to situations like toileting so let me know what you think.


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