For anyone who feels conflicted about family gatherings—fearful that they might be “too much” for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia, I have advice…
Include a dog.
On Sunday, Mom and her sister Louise came over to my house for Mother’s Day. They were greeted at the door—as is everyone—by the ferocious barks of my big dog Betty. Rescued from life in a crate, Betty is lacking in social skills but for Mom it was love at first sight.
Mom immediately reached down to pet her. From then on her attention was on the dog. “Yoo Hoo!” she would call.
Finding the tin with dog treats—even though her first impulse was to eat them herself—she allowed Betty to take the treats from her hand. She kept returning to the tin—each time attempting to eat them and then—beaming—turning to Betty to feed her some more.
They sat together on the couch with Mom and Louise both petting her.
Normally apprehensive after a few hours away from Assisted Living, Mom was quite content to ignore us and to sit with Betty.
As she left, her goodbyes were strictly for the dog.
Now I have to apologize for not taking photos. I was so caught up in the moment, it didn’t occur to me until they left…Next time.