The facilitator explained that people with Alzheimer’s can become easily overwhelmed when presented with too much information or have too many things to pick from so she suggested to Jane that maybe she shouldn’t give her husband so many choices for breakfast.
She said that maybe we should all think about narrowing down options when the situation presented itself, to limit the choices to one or two for our loved ones to make it easier for them to make a decision.
“Scrambled or fried eggs for breakfast and that’s it”, she said to Jane.
“Don’t ask him to pick from what (to him) seems like an endless menu.”
She explained that having to make (what seems to us) a ‘simple’ everyday choice could cause great anxiety for our loved one because their cognitive skills and reasoning are deteriorating and they can’t process information the way we can (and they used to).
“Or you decide”, she suggested, giving Jane yet another option, “don’t even give him a choice, when he comes in to breakfast just serve him.”
Sometimes, she said, as caregivers we don’t have the luxury of a discussion with our loved one (because of whatever stage our loved has been diagnosed) so, sometimes the best thing we can do is to make the best choice for them.
I have to say, I was impressed; with the honesty of Jane’s “share” and the no-nonsense practical suggestions the facilitator was giving her and to the rest of us by extension.
Although breakfast isn’t a hot spot between Miss Cathy and me, the information was still relevant and I thought perfect for Jane, so imagine my surprise when she said, “but he’ll just get mad if I serve him the oatmeal, he’ll say, “I want eggs!”
“Okay,” said the facilitator without batting an eye, “then you eat the eggs and give him the oatmeal.”
“As far as your grandchildren are concerned, you have to understand that alot if times loved ones with Alzheimer’s develop very sensitive hearing and it’s hard for them to understand things in higher resisters, all they hear is a lot of unpleasant high pitched noise.”
“And what do little kids have?” she asked somewhat rhetorically.
As a chorus of “high pitched” “Squeaky” and other descriptives for the immature vocal chords of small children were bandied about, there was also the sound of laughter; ‘laughing’ with each other and not at anyone in particular, a common sound that I should come to recognize (as I had from other 12 step groups) as a way of saying “I’ve been there, too” or “I thought I had it bad”.
And, as I sit in the meeting, listening to the shares from members of the group I’m reminded like John Bradford,, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”