Friday, March 14, 2008


I started reading The Best Friend's Approach to Alzheimer's Care. The first chapter discusses the rights of the person with Alzheimer's. As their loved one's memory fades and the caregiver's role changes the approach that this book takes is that the caregiver becomes the best friend of the person with Alzheimer's disease. Everything should revolve around the person with Alzheimer's but the caregiver should also care for themselves.

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.


flintysooner said...

That's a book I never did read so thanks much for sharing. Great story about the gum.

Definitely wishing you all the luck.

Cinnamin said...

Robyn, I feel bad, but I'm kind of laughing with you over the gum story! IF this were to happen again, ice works wonders with gum. Long story short, many years ago, we had a little girl with very long hair who loved to blow bubbles in her gum. Ice to freeze the gum, which then will "chip" off and peanut butter helped the rest slide out! Truth is stranger than fiction! And don't you know, she did this more than the one time?!? Some people just don't learn! :)

Praying that your Mom wakes up in "one of those" fantastic, go-go moods and can't wait to get out of the house with you!

(hugs) to you as you share these moments with your Mom. These, believe it or not, will be the memories that bring on the smiles!

~Betsy said...

This book sounds like an interesting read. I think we all could have written it as I really feel it's what all good caregivers do. It just comes with practice. Nonetheless, it sounds like a good reminder.

The gum makes me laugh, too. My mom used to stick her gum to the night stand. Eh - what are you gonna do, right?

nancy said...

i was not familiar with the book. sound like a good common sense approach to caregiving.

the gum story put a smile on my face.

hope for sunny tomorrows for you.

rilera said...

Cinn, don't feel bad, it was pretty humorous about the gum! Especially coming from my Mom who had to have everything perfect in her home.

Flinty, Betsy and Nancy, it's a good book with a common-sense approach to ALZ caregiving. It even has some activities for keeping the person active mentally and physically.

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