It is not unusual for someone to ask me, what would you do? Or, how did you do it?
In a way, these are formidable and hard to answer questions. On the other hand, at the time I remember thinking and feeling that Dotty and I could do just about anything if we put our mind to it.
Now don't get me wrong here, Dotty was an old girl, so of course there were constraints on what we could do. For example, we could never have entered the Amazing Race (around the world). Although the simple reality didn't stop me from thinking, I wonder how we would do?
I also wondered if we had no time constraints if Dotty and I could have made it around the World together. We should have tried it.
Which brings me to my point. Just do it. Don't let all the lies, myths and falsehoods about Alzheimer's get you down -- go for it.
I entered into an interesting conversation with two women I know yesterday. We were talking about all the years that I took care of Dotty. They were surprised to realize that pretty soon I will have been here in Delray Beach for 10 years.
When I first started taking care of Dotty I tried to do just about everything for her. However, I soon realized this was a big mistake. If I had continued on the same path I doubt that Dotty and I would have accomplished all that we did during the 8 and a half years I was taking care of her.
So fortunately, I came to a very different decision. I decided I would let Dotty do everything she could do until she proved to me that she couldn't do it.
As I look back I can say I had an enormous amount of faith in my mother, and she never let me down.
So these two women at the pool proceed to tell me there was a time when they wanted to strangle me. It seems they both had this enormous urge and desire to help my mother, Dotty, get into the pool. To them it looked like she was unable to do it on her own, and that she needed help.
They told me that every time they watched Dotty try to make it into the pool on her own, it drove them crazy. Now keep in mind, I was standing there right next to Dotty waiting patiently for her to make it into the pool. For me, it was a piece of cake because I had learned that Alzheimer's care often requires great patience. On the other hand, my two women friends told me it appeared to them that it was going to take Dotty forever to get into the pool.
Now in my defense, I did tell both of these women, and quite a few more, way back at the very beginning that Dotty could do it, and to let her do it. Of course, back in the old days near the beginning hey thought I was being mean and unreasonable.
It was not unusual for me to get criticized by people that didn't even know us for executing my philosophy -- let Dotty do it.
One time Dotty was having a particularly difficult time stepping off the curb. I was holding her arm, but she just wasn't making the step. This woman comes along and starts yelling at me to get Dotty a walker. I gave her the stop sign. If you want to know what I really mean by this you will have to go read this explanation I wrote - Alzheimer's: Never Forget, the Stop Sign, and Butt-in-skis .
Dotty of course was Dotty and she finally make the step down into the parking lot. And in typical Dotty fashion as soon as she did she said, "that woman is an *ss".
I had a good laugh. But better yet, this was Dotty's way of letting me know that not only could she do it, she wanted to do it on her own.
So anyway, I went on to explain to my two women friends that one of the reasons that Dotty did so well over all those years of caring for her was that I believed in her and she believed in me, and we just tried to live our life (as best we could).
To get a better understanding of my philosophy on this issue you can also read -- Just Let the Deeply Forgetful Do It .
Now many of you are wondering how I am doing? I realize I have not yet addressed this issue adequately.
However, you might be able to glean something from this article.
Yes, I think about Dotty all the time. I tend to think of her as a "healthy old broad". After all that is the way Dotty described herself to me and anyone that would listen right up until near the very end.
For me, Dotty was a remarkable woman, and she stayed remarkable even as she became more deeply forgetful.
More or less, she just did it.
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized Influencer, speaker, and expert in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community Worldwide. The Alzheimer's Reading Knowledge Base contains more than 4,000 articles, and the ARR has more than 343,000 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.Learn more about Alzheimer's and Dementia in the Alzheimer's Reading Room .