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My Blog

What It is like working with Alzheimer Patients

Good afternoon,  Sorry that it took so long to get to the blog today.  Lots on my plate and trying to deal with Shingles...really no fun. 
So, today I thought I would touch  on the subject of Alzheimer's.   If you have never encountered someone with this disease, you are fortunate.   This disease robs a person of their Quality of life. 
Now, when I walked in to work today.  I teach art to the residents.  I was met with a very upset resident.  Screaming and yelling that they had no right to keep her there...She has a home and she wanted to leave.  She accused everyone and anyone who would listen of being taken from her home and wanted to back right then and there.  It was so sad to see her so confused.  She yelled and yelled that her son needed to come and take he home.  I assured her that we would call him, but in the mean time, perhaps she would want to do some art with me and the other residents. 
Now I am just the storyteller and art teacher there and have no authority whatsoever...but at one point she came and sat down with me.  Slowly she began to become involved with the clay and stories.  She shared stories about making bread, and stories about her gardening.  This went along quite well.  I was 1uite pleased with her turn around.  She was in such a frenzy in the beginning that I wasn't sure what would happen. 
This seems to be a common occurrence with the residents.  But the moments when you can connect with them is most rewarding.  Something as simple as talking about worms and night crawlers brought back memories for one woman and when she was a child.  The smile and joy on her face was amazing.  She could identify and remember a moment in her life and share it with us.  Another woman remembered have numerous boats in her lifetime and it returned memories of her husband and children. 
They are living in a world where everything current is unidentifiable to them.  They are satisfied with sitting and watching life go by, the leaves on the trees and how gently they move when the wind moved through them.   They are disregarded by some as void, and yet I see them as such innocent angels. 
They can become frustrated with not remembering how to hold a pencil or color an object, yet can at times stand up and recite in entirety a poem from 80 years ago. 
Not all things trigger the same in each resident.  Each one have there own memory triggers, but when you find one, you cannot help but be thrilled with the excitement in their faces.  It is like it is all new to them...as though it just happened yesterday.  It is like finding a hidden treasure chest, only these treasures are their life memories. 
I talk to them while we work, I ask questions about what we are doing.  I ask them about their favorite colors, flowers, trips.  We go back in time with song and movies.  Actors and actresses.  Their hobbies and crafts.  Their parents and grandparents.  It is such an honor to be part of their lives even if tomorrow it is all a blur...in that single moment...they experience a special moment. 
Sometimes I am so elated with the moments and sometimes so sad to see their sadness or disappointments.  I know that God watches over us all...and I pray for them.  For those precious moments that make them feel alive again. 
It is hard when the disease progresses and they can no longer recognize their loved ones.  They longer know where they are.  Their lives are lost somewhere is space. When you think of them...think fondly of the moments they gave in this life.  Some where teachers, lawyers, nurses, moms, dads, accountants and almost every profession you can think of.  They made a difference in many peoples lives.  they were vital, invested human beings who loved and need to be loved back...especially now in this time of fear and forgetfulness.  If you have a moment, volunteer to read, play a game, they may only remember it for the moment you are there, but every moment in life is important.  They are our past...maybe you can be their present, in more ways than one.

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