Sunday, July 14, 2013

Alzheimer’s Magic

I pulled the large bubble sword out of its sheath. “Hey Bob, look at this!” I called out as I spun around ending up in the middle of an almost complete bubble circle. He wasn’t impressed. 
I dipped and blew, this time shooting a cluster of bubbles in Bob’s direction. He reached out and popped one.  I was as excited as a child, filling the garden with iridescent orbs of all sizes and shapes. Bob said disparagingly, ”That’s for kids.” 

I’d thought he’d like this new toy. I was disappointed that it failed to please him. So it was with trepidation that I brought Bob a soft fuzzy stuffed dog with droopy ears and blond fur. The dog had a brown patch around one eye making it difficult to see it. Bob said with concern, “He only has one eye. Do you think he’ll be Ok?” I pulled back the fuzz and showed him, “See he has both. He’ll be just fine.”  His concern melted.

Bob Concerned About Buddy's Eye
“What shall we call him?” I asked. Bob looked blank. After a moment of silence that mutated into an unintelligible sentence he said, “He’s Buddy Boy.” Bob kept pushing Buddy Boy around on the table – not holding him or embracing him but he couldn’t ignore him either. 

This new gift had his attention. As we chatted he’d make a comment about the dog as though he were a living being and yet when he handled him, he did it like a toy. He seemed to be going in and out of reality and fantasy. He even asked, "Should we get Buddy’s hair clipped?"

I’d given Bob a stuffed shore bird several months before. The caregivers told me he carried it around and sometimes took it to bed. The bird is soft and small, not as fuzzy as Buddy Boy. And it seems he’s lost interest in the bird.

I first got the idea of giving Bob stuffed animals from an article on The Alzheimer’s Reading room.  The article told about Dotty and her toy bird, Harvey, with whom she talked and told things to that she didn’t tell her caregiver son – like that she had a headache. 

I considered this idea for a long time because I didn’t think my former deep-sea diving, water-skiing, hiking, man’s man of a husband would accept a stuffed animal. And as silly as it sounds, I didn’t want to be rejected by him. It’s emotionally hard enough being a caregiver and losing your soul mate to this disease.

Then I read one of Marie Marley’s articles about her Romanian soul mate and his surprising response to stuffed animals. 

I was so inspired by her words that when I saw this dog sitting in a rack at the supermarket, I knew it was worth a try. It was like magic.  My sweet husband softened and bonded. I just hope Daisy, his living dog, won’t be jealous.

You can read more of Marie Marley's stories on her blog:

(Please note that I can't get this address to link so you'll have to cut and paste.)

And one other note:  I'm not very tech savvy and just realized I didn't have a place for people to follow Alz World. I have now added that feature. If you click 'Join Followers' my new posts will appear in your 'in box'.  I will never share your address with anyone else.

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