Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Alzheimer's Floor & Miracles

My across-the-street neighbor works with Alzheimer patients at a local retirement community.  She invited Chester and me to come visit  on PET DAY.   I thought, hmm, I will fit right in.  I have a Pet, and my memory is fuzzy.

Dorrie, my neighbor, well ~ she is absolutely amazing with these precious men and women.  So engaging, loving, honoring, always saying the person's name with a warm, enthusiastic greeting.  She knows each one.  Knows and loves. What a joy to watch her love on "her" people.

Chester and I began Pet Day with group time.  Everyone was seated in a big circle facing Chester. Dorrie introduced us.  We greeted each person individually, some wanting kisses, some not. Some wanting paw shakes, some not. Some just wanting to rest a hand on his head, or scratch his back.  Ahhh.    Chester performed a few canine tricks ~~ his latest, Ta-Da! Take a bow, please!!  Was a complete hit, and he took a bow like a pro.   Too cute. 

Next, Dorrie took us to some private rooms ~ some patients do not like to venture out.  Two people I will remember most of all.  Janet and Willard.

We walked into Janet's room. Dorrie enthusiastically introduced us, and , Yes!, Janet wanted to meet Chester.  We walked up to the side of  Janet's bed.  She could not reach to touch Chester, so I gave him the command for "up" -- which means paws-up-on-side-of-bed.  Well, err,  I thought I gave him the command for "UP".  Actually, I had given him the command for "jump ON the bed!" (as I said, I fit well on this floor). Chester looked at me as if to say, "Really, ya mean it?"  And before I could say "WAIT, what did I just say???"  He was ON Janet's bed in a single bound. Ohmy.   And Janet was laughing.  So was Dorrie.  I asked Chester to please get down, and then gave him the proper command.  He sort of did this half on, half off, bed position, laying across Janet's lap. Honestly it seemed to work well for the two of them so I let him stay.  Janet talked about her dog, the one she had many years ago.  Her eyes sparkled. We gently engaged in conversation about dogs on beds,  slobbery dog kisses, and I listened to her puppy dog tails from long ago.   And then it was time to go,  "Please come again," were the words I heard as we walked out of Janet's room.

Dorrie looked at me in amazement, going on to say ....  Janet is one of our most difficult patients. Very discouraging, so hard to get along with.  Dorrie was quick to explain, Janet is not rude, but the disease is.  I understood.  Dorrie's eyes filled and  she continued to explain, this day was a miracle for Janet.

And Willard.  Apparently, Willard is much like Janet in how the disease has affected him.  AND, Willard nodded "Yes!" to a visit from Chester.  After entering Willard's room, Chester did not wait for a command, he simply looked at Willard, and JUMPED gently onto Willard's bed, snuggling beside him.  Willard smiled big, with the few teeth that he had, and began to make happy sounds.  His large, wrinkled hand rested on Chester ~~ he pet him over and over and over and over again.   When it was time, Chester slid off the bed, and we wagged our goodbyes to Willard.  As Chester trotted down the hallways,  Dorrie looked at me, "You have no idea what a difference you are making... I've never seen this."

We visited at least 10 rooms.....Chester only snuggled ON two beds, Janet's and Willard's.   The two that needed (and wanted) him most of all.

Chester,  you totally make me smile, ....Ta-Da, Please Take a Bow!

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