CatholicJedi+RadioMariaUSA

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"...Waiting There Means They Will Go Home"

A post at Faith and Family Live reminded me of a story I had heard once before out of Germany.  It concerned Alzheimer patients who wandered away from their old age home.  Trying to keep loved ones safe is one of the most frustrating aspects for those caring for dementia sufferers.  This particular senior residence in Dusseldorf, Germany, had a recurring problem of residents wandering off and forgetting where they belonged.  The staff became very concerned because of the danger to the elderly patients, especially during the cold winters.

Someone at the residence, in conjunction with a local care agency, came up with a novel idea to keep the residents from walking away.  They had a fake bus stop installed in front of the building.  As one of those involved described it,:
“It sounds funny,” said Old Lions Chairman Franz-Josef Goebel, “but it helps. Our members are 84 years-old on average. Their short-term memory hardly works at all, but the long-term memory is still active. They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.” The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place.
“We will approach them and say that the bus is coming later today and invite them in to the home for a coffee, five minutes later they have completely forgotten they wanted to leave.”
Sometimes it takes ingenuity, along with compassion, to care for those who are mentally disabled.  Especially those who at one time were perfectly alert, but over time have slipped into the abyss of alzheimers.   An acquaintance of mine cares for a mother with advanced dementia.  Her mother still lives at home, but with around the clock care.   Each day the daughter goes to stay with her mother for some time after work, but one day she brought along her brother who  lives at a distance.  At the end of the visit, the mother said,"Could you please give me a ride home?"  The daughter said, "Sure, put on your coat."  At this her brother looked at her as if she had lost her mind.  Her mother put on her coat, went outside to her daughter's car, whereby her daughter drove her around the block right back up to her front door.  Her mother got out of the car, thanked everyone for the ride and went into the house perfectly content. 

St. John, pray for all caregivers.

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