Every person diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder deserves the following rights:
- To be informed of one's diagnosis
- To have appropriate, ongoing medical care
- To be productive in work and play for as long as possible
- To be treated like an adult, not like a child
- To have expressed feelings taken seriously
- To be free from psychotropic medications, if possible
- To live in a safe, structured, and predictable environment
- To enjoy meaningful activities that fill each day
- To be outdoors on a regular basis
- To have physical contact, including hugging, caressing, and hand-holding
- To be with individuals who know one's life story, including cultural and religious traditions
- To be cared for by individuals who are well trained in dementia care
A key point to being a Best Friend is that the caregiver becomes a memory aid to the person -- friends know each others' histories. Being reminded of past accomplishments, family connections, personal beliefs and traditions helps tremendously. It gets them involved in their own lives again.
Friends do many things: they share history, they do things together, they communicate, they build self-esteem, they laugh often, they work at the relationship, and they are equals. These carry over as key concepts in the Best Friends model. Bell and Troxel go into some detail about how to handle situations for the full-time caregiver, the volunteer, and for those who visit persons with Alzheimer's in care. Specific situations and general principles are presented in a clear, intelligible manner with great application potential.
Meanwhile back at the ranch...I found that Mom had used chewing gum to stick a picture onto her desk. I had to laugh as I know what her reaction would have been had one of us kids done that. I was patient and didn't raise my voice, I laughed about it in fact. Then I spent some time trying to get the gum unstuck from the desk. Mom helped and felt remorseful even though I told her it was no big deal.
Tomorrow I hope to motivate Mom to leave the house. Wish me luck.