What 24 hours in your parents’ home can teach you

THE ALZHEIMER’S GEMBA IS YOUR PARENTS’ HOME

“Go see, ask why, show respect”

— Fujio Cho

Can Alzheimer’s really be as big a deal as people say?

After all, my parents and I talk on the phone every week, and Mom seems fine.  Sure, the last few weeks she handed the phone to Dad and walked away. But Mom’s always had her moods.  And sure, Dad does interrupt our conversations to tell Mom to put down the banana.  But I probably should have called at a better time of day.

When a Loved One is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s life changes for every person in the family.

Acceptance comes in waves, with the hush of denial in between.

Let’s say you are a family member who wants to support your Loved One and Caregiver through Alzheimer’s.  There is a technique you can use to speed up your acceptance.  The same technique helps you clearly see the new lives that your Loved One and Caregiver now live.

Here it is: Spend twenty-four hours in your parent’s home.

 Photo by Henri Picot via Unsplash

While you’re there, pay attention to the items listed below. Can you see differences between your parents ten years ago, and your parents today?  Notice each of your parents in the morning, afternoon, and evening.  Remember: this is a fact-finding mission.  The temptation is to jump into immediate improvement mode. Do your best to simply observe. Only when the visit is complete, and you review what you learned, are you ready to identify possibilities that may improve each of your parent’s new realities.

The good news is that even though there is yet to be a cure for Alzheimer’s, there are many ways to improve life for your Loved Ones with Alzheimer’s and your Caregivers. What’s important is that improvement possibilities address what is needed today, and when possible anticipate what may be needed in the next six to twelve months. This requires effort.  Observe the following.

                   Household Safety Checklist by Professor Robyn Gerson, UCSF                   Household Safety Checklist by Professor Robyn Gerson, UCSF

Twenty-four hours at your parent’s home will give you a fresh perspective on how Alzheimer’s has already changed their lives.  It will speed up your acceptance of the new realities of their lives and yours. And, twenty-four hours will help you identify things in your parent’s lives that you can explore with them as things they may consider improving.

Given all that you learn, this exercise may be the best return you will ever get on an investment of twenty-four-hours.  Plan now for a return visit in six to twelve months to see what has changed and what that can teach you.

Your friend on the journey,

Barbara

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