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Friday, December 12, 2014

Play Ball! December 12, 2014

It is generally understood that new learning is not part of the dementia spectrm; studies are focussed on retaining memory, not new learning.
It is also commonly understood that people revert to old forms of behaving when they develop dementia.
Actually, we don't know enough about dementia yet to really state anything like that.

My husband's actions and behavior surprise us every day. He still has humor, he still wants things done on his timetable. He certainly still prefers to look at young good-looking women, but his fascination with ball playing is something in which he has not indulged since he was a young boy in Brooklyn playing stick ball in the streets. "The sewers were the bases," he recalled a few years ago."And there weren't so many cars parked on the street as there are now," he added then.

We purchased a playground ball this time as the ones from the dollar store don't bounce straight somehow. My husband will play with anyone; he will throw and catch but he prefers to bounce and catch the ball, sometimes standing and sometimes seated in a chair. But the other day, a few other men joined him in the yard and wanted to play--he would not share his ball.

We try to provide activities that are stimulating, but we never quite know what will work and what increases his agitiation. He is also confused about the decorations in the home for the holidays. He wants to take some of them to his room to put them away. Putting small decorative objects away where they will be safe is something I remember of my spouse. Not being willing to share is new since he developed Alzheimer's disease. I believe that he feels he has lost so much that whatever he does remember, he clings to.

Please be patient with the loved one you care for during this hectic time. Remember to modify the holiday to fit the person with dementia's needs. Remember the good times of the past; those are good feelings. Accept the smiles and the moments of recognition of the present. They will be precious memories for us, although sadly not for our loved one with dementia. Life is bittersweet.

In a nutshell, remember this: caregiving is an art not a science. Attempt to take a lesson from the Navajo who believe that to try for perfection is to try to be God. If there isn't already a visible error in a crafted object the crafter will intentionally introduce one. Don't lose sight of the fact that we are human caregivers trying to help human care receivers. We'll never get everything right. That truth holds all year long but is even more important to remember during this time of year when others can appear to live in an ideal world.

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