Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Dentist

"Hi, where are you? I'm here in reception and the appointment is in a few minutes," I say to Wayan from my cell phone. Bob has a 3:00 dental appointment to get a cavity filled but hasn't arrived yet.

"Susan, Bob won't keep his clothes on. We don't know what to do. He was already to go and then before we knew it he was naked again. Now he won't get dressed."

"Let me talk with him, please."

"Hi Bob, you need to get dressed for your dentist appointment," I say encouragingly. He tells me, "You Go get dressed!" and then speaks something unintelligible. I understand the gist which is where I should put said clothes. Wayan gets back on the line.

"I'll try to make another appointment," I sigh with resignation.

The weather has been very hot lately so I'm sure this is Bob's way of handling the discomfort. He probably just wants to sit nude in front of the fan.

I apologize profusely to the staff reminding them that Bob has Alzheimer's. They're very understanding and talk directly to Dr. Heny, our patient female dentist.  As we are setting the new appointment for a morning the following week (thinking Bob will be fresher earlier in the day) my cell rings and Wayan says, "We just got him dressed and are on our way. We should be there in about fifteen minutes."

Fortunately Dr. Heny doesn't have another appointment and agrees to wait. They arrive in record time and get Bob settled into the dentist's chair. He's very good with the dentist and doesn't mind being there for over an hour and having five cavities filled.

About three quarters of the way through, though, he asks for the bathroom. He makes into the room but ends up with pee down his pants and onto the floor. He emerges with a big wet spot which embarrasses Dr. Heny and her staff. In getting Bob dressed the boys had missed getting him into incontinence underwear. 

I chatted with Ketut and Wayan while we waited for Bob and asked how they were able to get him dressed and keep him dressed.  Ketut said, "I'd go out the gate and wait five minutes, texting Wayan inside to see how things were going.  Then I'd come in as though for the first time that day with a big, 'Hey Bob! How are you today?' high-fiving him at the same time. 'Come on get dressed and let's go meet Susan!' 

They had to do this routine four times before it took and they could get him out the gate and into the car.

These men are so dedicated and caring and smart and above all patient! And I find it really interesting that Bob can't dress himself anymore without a lot of time and effort  but he can strip by himself in a nanosecond. Funny how the Alzheimer's brain works!

Now we have an interesting problem. How do we get Bob to brush his teeth more regularly and thoroughly? Dr. Heny told me that there was a lot of debris in his mouth from not brushing properly.

After reading the article on teeth brushing from the Alzheimer's Reading Room:

the boys now brush their teeth in front of Bob to encourage him and that seems to help but still it isn't enough. Maybe we just have to step up the effort trying to get him to brush twice a day. 

If you have any suggestions I would like to hear them.


  1. I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a
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  2. Suggestion for brushing teeth:
    Buy a dozen toothbrushes. Apply a small amount of kids toothpaste(the bright colored gel type with a fruity flavor) to the brush. Make his favorite flavored popsicle with the handles used as the stick. Then encourage him to brush with the popsicle brush at the end. He may just swallow the toothpaste while brushing, but no big thing. I would start with making one and to see if it he goes for it before buying a dozen toothbrushes. Buy a toothbrush with a bright colored handle, something new and different than his usual?

  3. Thank you both Joni and Maui for your comments. The toothbrush idea sounds brilliant. Currently Bob is in the hospital with pneumonia but seems to be rallying and will be out of ICU today. I'll be writing about this soon. An emotional roller coaster!


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