Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Going Home

It's been 72 days that I've been away from the Island of the Gods, away from Bob, my staff, and creating. While I’ve been gone, Nano, one of Bob’s original caregivers, quit. He said, "I can’t sleep and I'm stressed. My condition is weak and my doctor told me to rest for six months".
After four years with Nano, Bob will probably have a difficult time adjusting to a new person and a new person will have a difficult time learning to deal with Bob who felt safe with this big man with the soft gentle voice. I’ll miss Nano too, knowing how responsible and caring he's been.
In the past when I’ve had to hire caregivers, I’ve found many have a hard time learning to “lie” even though it’s what we need to do to keep Bob as anxiety free and as happy as possible.
Learning to lie is a skill that didn’t come easily to me but one that I had to adopt. The truth spoken to a person with Alzheimer’s is often cruel – creating anxiety and pain - and my goal is to keep Bob as calm and happy as possible without resorting to drugs. 
Simple techniques such as redirecting can keep the Alz person safe. “Bob there’s ice cream in the kitchen waiting for you,” called out to him when he’s about climb the fence, most likely trying to climb out of his skin. By the time he turns his attention to the kitchen he’s forgotten about both the fence and the dessert.
“Susan’s in Bangkok on a visa run. She’ll be back in two days,” repeated over and over is sufficient to set his mind at ease when I’m off island.  These seeming lies are healing balms to his anxious mind.
I only hope I can find someone to replace Nano who can embrace this technique, this gift to a man for whom peace is often just out of reach. And I hope Bob will be able to accept this new presence.
Wish us luck!

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