by Jackie K. Cooper
Recently I spoke to a group of people who really touched my heart. They were caregivers for Alzheimer patients. That means they were family members or hired persons who tended to Alzheimer patients. In most instances they were family members. The topic of the evening was titled "Health, Hope and Humor." The speakers were a doctor, a psychiatrist and me.
The doctor spoke about health; the psychiatrist spoke about hope; and I spoke about humor.
Now some of you could quickly point out there is nothing at all funny about Alzheimer's Disease and I would be the first to agree with you. But I will also tell you I feel strongly that Alzheimer caregivers have to have a sense of humor and a sense of the ridiculous or they are not going to be of any value to the patient.
When my father died a few years ago he was thought to be in the early stages of Alzheimer's. He had some memory problems and he told the same stories over and over and over. We could ignore the same stories being told, but we couldn't do anything to help him remember things.
Except laugh with him.
These are some good things to remember. One of the most important is not to take things
personally. If you are working with a person who is suffering from Alzheimer's, don't think you
can personally change their status. Dedication is one thing, but taking their state of being
personally is another. If you do take it personally, then you are liable to end up being angry
with the person for where they are in their illness -- and that is definitely the wrong attitude.
People would ask me how I could stand to watch my father go downhill, so to speak. My answer was always the same. I would tell them that as long as he could tell me he loved me then I was ahead of the game.
The last time I saw him, the last thing he said to me was that he loved me. Then we hugged each other and laughed.
Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. He is the married father of two sons and the proud grandparent of a boy and a girl.
He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short stories have also been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio.
Finding Your Face
In Praise of Red-Headed Girls
Men and Their Automobiles
It's All About Me!
Moments of Memories
The Customer is Always Wrong
Never Too Old To Hurt
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