Tidbits – Creating Moments Of Joy Series

Brackey_FifthEdition_Front_Cover_FINAL.inddFamily MomentsEnhanced ActivitiesEnhanced DiningCreating Moments of JoyCreating Moments of Joy

Brackey_FifthEdition_Front_Cover_FINAL.inddThe following are many wonderful tidbits I receive from families and caregivers. If you have found a “nugget” please email me and I will pass it on. Thank you to all who spread the joy!

How do I move Dad and avoid a possible melt down?

Be sure to have at least 5 things with you that will give him comfort. A bag of goodies to ease the transition ie: his favorite snack (nibbling relaxes us), his favorite drink, a hot wet wash cloth is more potent then medication, ask him to hold the bag (something in his hands may give him comfort), a ball cap or farm cap if he would normally wear one (feel more protected under a cap), and use the least amount of words possible. Avoid trying to explain or even talk about the move but focus on the ice cream stop you are going to make. Help “ground” him ie: blanket on his lap, hand on his shoulder, noticing a bird or flower, slow movements and easy tone of voice.

The person that has the “calm”personality is the one who is with the person with dementia. The others are behind the scenes, moving their “place of comfort” and everything around it, their bed and everything around it, and something this person Loves Loves into their new place. Avoid buying anything new. It is the familiar things that give us comfort.

Moving is difficult, so expect it to be difficult and that is OK too.

Hope this eases the moment,

When a person is missing someone who has passed away, they may be crying and saying, “I miss my husband”, whether they have Alzheimer’s or not, we can respond with, “Well talk to him and when you feel a swift Kick in your butt you know he heard you.”

Pat a caregiver for over 40 years from Missoula Montana

How do I get my mother to take her meds, she thinks she is being poisoned.

I am not a believer in meds when someone is walking their last journey on this earth. The strain that it causes just to take the medications twice daily out weighs the benefits. Medication for pain….yes…but the rest of it is causing side effects and a “feeling” everyday that she is being poisoned. Handing someone a hot wet wash cloth is stronger medication, or sitting with someone is stronger than medication.

Research shows that medications for Alzheimer’s only MAYBE work in the early stages but after that families continue to give meds in the “hopes” they will get better or the “fear” that the person will get worse. This is a disease that progresses. The money we put toward medications, we could be using for quality of life ie: hiring someone to “be with” the person or smoke with the person, supplying favorite drink or having ice cream all day long.
You are her advocate, she is telling you what she wishes just by refusing to take the medication.

Their generation didn’t take meds to feel better. They rested, had a drink, sat on the porch or vented with a friend. Give her what is familiar. Comfort, warmth and your company will be more beneficial than meds.

Do you have any ideas for those experiencing hallucinations?

Hallucinations caused by: Watching T.V, Dreaming the night before, Medication side effect, Mirrors/Reflections off windows, and or the body remembering a traumatic moment earlier in life.

Controlled TV so they don’t see the News or unfamiliar movies. Only show familiar Westerns, musicals, sports and shows with lighthearted subject like baby animals.

We can help with more peaceful sleep by helping the person to “feel” like the world is OK before they nod off ie: saying a prayer, reassuring them the kids are asleep and the door is locked, fulfilling any “habits of a lifetime” (certain drink, bowl of cereal).

Reduce the amount of medications they are taking. Medication for Pain…yes… but slowly take them off Alz. medications because research shows they only MAYBE work in the early stages of this disease. Medications cause many side effects and strain which outweighs the supposed benefits.

Removing mirrors in their rooms and bathrooms because they don’t recognize their reflection which makes them feel like some one is “in there” Closing curtains before they enter a room at night so their isn’t a reflection off the window.

With Alzheimer’s they will relive traumatic moments from their past as if it is happening “right now”. We don’t have to figure out the story, but hear the emotion behind the story and respond to that. “I am so sorry that happened” “I will be here all day” “Cry, let it all out”

Always respond as if the hallucination is real ie: kill the spiders, shoo the kids outside, “The war is over”, or take them to another room if they feel there is a “fire”. The facts are all off but what they “feel” is real.

To help them “feel” safe with you, they need you to believe them and respond to their feeling as if they are real.

Hope this helps,

I have discovered over the holidays the joys of U-tube and taking my laptop along. Residents who in the past displayed little reaction to my voice or touch, opened their eyes and looked at Bing Crosby or Judy Garland signing a Christmas melody. A woman who loved Elvis kept sneaking looks at young Elvis singing Blue Christmas.

Memory Jar
Our family wrote memories on little slips of paper, copied old photos and wrote story behind photo, added my mom’s favorite sweet treats and put them in a jar for her to pull out as she wished. She got many moments of joy and the staff got to know my mom.

I work on a vent unit and we had a patient that had advanced dementia and the staff didn’t know what to do with him. He had a foley, a G-tube, a tracheostomy and was connected to a vent. The nurses started right off with trying to sedate him with Haldol. A lot of Haldol. I came back after my weekend off and he was unable to communicate even without a trach, due to the dementia, but his eyes showed no anger, just boredom. I stopped the Haldol right away, got it d/ced (his MD was also my MD). The cnas were ready to call the DON on me, “He is going to pull out his catheter and his G tube and his trach!” He already had on each count. I gave him some vent circuitry (blue springy hose things) and a nebulizer kit (lots of things that interconnected with each other and an old remote control. Success!!! The cnas were amazed!


My granddaughter Brieanna, who is 8, came to work with me one day. Bertie, one of our residents with dementia, was there with her 2 “babies” in the stroller, just beaming. I commented to her, “Oh Bertie your babies are getting so big.” Brieanna looked at me like I was crazy. But the next day and days to come Brieanna visited Bertie and other residents with ease. When I made it no big deal, so did she.

Staff Moments
Families need validation! A method when families are struggling with various issues. I simply say, “I just love (residents name) where they are. I’m not mourning who they were.” Then hug or pat the family member.
Mary Walton

A resident, who had an overbearing older sister, would get so upset at the way her sister talked to her. I told her about my older sister who is just like that. From then on, when her sister was mean, she’d look at me and say, “You know, you understand, don’t you.” A hug always made it better.
Judy Hill

I believe that staff respond better to residents who look better. For example their hair neat, light makeup, shaved and clean faces, brushed teeth and clean hands. When they look good, feel good, everyone has a better day.
Carol Straka

If the person with Alzheimer’s doesn’t think they are sick but sees your scrubs (nurses uniform) and thinks you are here to take care of them, simply apologize and say you just came from work and didn’t have time to change.

Habits of a lifetime
I have a gentleman who is difficult to get out of bed in the morning, but when I found out he was a farmer I simply mooed like a cow. It worked!
Patience Russell
Osceola, Wisconsin

I want to go home
When a person wants to go home, ask them if they would please stay and keep you company.
Bonnie N.
Osceola, Wisconsin

honey, dearie, sweetie
Address a male resident as “Sir”. It shows respect.
Bonnie N.
Osceola, Wisconsin

There was a lady crying and crying about hurting a child. This event happened in her past and she was grieving like it was yesterday. A very smart caregiver said, “You are forgiven. You are forgiven.”

Don’t try to convert or “Save” them, simply pray with them.

I had a resident that overheard me talking about a car I had that was coughing and sputtering and my mechanic couldn’t figure out the problem. My resident told me, “Boil the cab and put new floats in. That will fix it.” I told my mechanic and he looked at me like I was stupid. He did it and it fixed it. You can learn from anyone if you just listen.
Terry Craig

Back in the early 80’s, when I was a policeman, we kept getting calls from a man who was physically handicapped from either being in WW2 or the Korean War. He called the police dept. several times saying he wanted to commit suicide. He called the police dept. so much police officers got tired of responding, so they sent me.
History: He had a daughter who never saw him and she was to inherit his money. He had depression but wouldn’t get help except from the alcohol bottle and calling the police.
When police officers saw him they would be there a long time and just listen. It was a temporary, short lived fix. Then one day I was called to go up and see him. I figured out what he needed because he used a lot of very coarse language. So I listened, then said, “That’s right you old bastard. Your daughter doesn’t see you because your such a big asshole, you son of a *#!. Who wants to visit a shit like you.” His eyes then brightened up and he smiled real big. We continued on like this changing subjects and used coarse language. I told him I had to leave because of the dirty “@*!’s” I work for didn’t want me to stay long with an “*@~!” like him. He told me he really enjoyed our talk and wanted me to come back when I could.
About 1 and a half weeks later he committed suicide on my day off. I felt he was at peace though and I know I was going to miss him more than his daughter did.
Jesse Arenas

Stop correcting them and simply meet them right where they are.

“You can create a whole other world with simply the space between you and them.”

I just read your wonderful book yesterday. Creating Moments of Joy, I even love the title. I wish I had know of it when mom was increasingly under the influence of dementia. But, to give myself credit, I did pretty good!
I listened to her cues…she was funny, her particular like of sarcastic wit in evidence to the end. She had asked me if I’d seen someone lately. It occurred to me that everyone she asked about was dead. For awhile it had seemed okay to say, oh they had died, and she would then “remember”. I had hesitated this time, it was just too hard to keep telling about the dead. But my mind wasn’t working fast enough for her. She gave her piercing look and said, “I suppose you’re going to tell me she’s dead too.” I realized I’d reached a crossroads of some kind and from then on I went with her where ever she went. No more listing of the dead.
A friend and I often said to each other, isn’t it fascinating, the people she inquires about, the place she “goes”, the things she was to talk about? I learned fascinating things about mom during those years. Things about her being a girl, and about her girl friend Mary, that I maybe wouldn’t have learned any other way.
The hardest part was the first time she looked at me and asked, “Where’s Karen?” I’m Karen. “No, not you Karen, that other one who’s here all the time. That one who knows everything.” Emphasis on knows as only she could give. Aha. I thought I was being so gentle with my “suggestions”, my “ideas”. She never missed a trick.
Your book is thoughtfully done, and funny and very practical. Endlessly useful. And I am very eager to get the “Family Moments” guide, especially since you invite us to make copies. Thank you again for your forward thinking book.
     All the best,
Karen Backlund – Hallock, MN

“Your seeing the Love of the Lord thru the fog of Alz.” -Bev’s Dad

Video of 1987 Twins World Series, a beer, a ball cap and wear Twins t-shirt. They will like you instantly. -Daughter did for her Dad