Just the other day I had a caregiver share with me about a morning she had the previous week. Her mother had an appointment at 10 a.m., her mother got up as she normally does each morning. The caregiver had everything laid out for her mother. She told her mother to get dressed and she would be in the kitchen making some breakfast. She told her to come to the kitchen when she got dressed and eat breakfast. After sometime had passed, she noticed that her mother failed to show up for breakfast. When she went into her mother’s room she found that her mother had decided to go back to bed. The caregiver said she just stepped back out of her mother’s room and took three deep breaths! She canceled the appointment and when her mother got up again, they ate breakfast and went out for some ice cream. You really exercise your patients when you are a family living with dementia.
I remember one of my caregivers sharing about his wife washing clothes. “This is what she does, wash clothes!” He said. She was ok when she would run out of washing detergent. So instead of getting a large container of detergent he would just get the small container of detergent. So she was able to continue to wash clothes, and when she would run out of detergent she was content until he provided another container.
I had a caregiver share that his wife just would not sit still, she was always working and wanting to be busy. She would sweep the floor over and over again. He said his wife would wipe the counter in their kitchen so often he thought she would wear a hole in it. You see they ran a restaurant together and she always stayed on the move and stayed busy. So He decided to took a large laundry basket with towels and wash cloths in it and have her fold them. When she finished folding he would take the basket out of her sight and dump them into a different (same color) large laundry basket. Later he would bring that basket out and she would fold them all again. This would keep her busy and in one place. You really have to be creative when you are a family living with dementia.
I was doing some research about humor and found a website, www.dailycaring.com and found a cute story that may make you laugh. One person shared that at her facility there was a little man sitting at beside with a towel folded square on top of his head. When she ask him why he had a towel on top of his head he replies “it helps to keep the kangaroos away.” When she ask him how that was working for him, he said he hadn’t seen a kangaroo yet. This was in Georgia, there is no high population of kangaroos in Georgia or in the facility.
The Sampson County Adult Day Health Care has a devotion each morning with their clients. The entire staff joins in for the devotion as well. Each time Carolyn Thompson, the Activity Director would open her mouth to speak one of their newest clients would sing, “He woke me up this morning and got me on my way, thank you Lord, thank you Lord.” She would not fail at each time Carolyn would open her mouth to speak, this client would sing. This caused a big laughter session with clients and staff! They had devotion that morning not the normal devotion but still a devotion! Laughter is contagious, and it was contagious this noted morning! They all, staff and clients had a great day, a day to remember with laughter! As a caregiver learn to laugh and enjoy the laugh!
What does laughter do for you? Well it increases oxygen in the blood, it has positive psychological benefits and it is for everybody, the person and family living with dementia. That good feeling you get when you laugh can last up to 24 hours. Laughter can relieve stress! Laughter is a social event! It can be enjoyed at anytime and anywhere!
Caregivers you are amazing! What you do each day is important and you are important! Laugh and try to find that humor that is in each day. Hope you have a “Best Day Ever.”
Lesia Henderson is the aging specialist for the Sampson County Department of Aging.