The Ten Absolutes

Absolute Ten: Never Force, Instead Reinforce!

One day in the Alzheimer's nursing home I was administrating, we had a very distressing incident. A truly incredible and proud lady, named Pat, had an explosive bout of diarrhea while in the dining room. It was obvious to everyone that poor Pat was distressed. She didn't know what to do! Two staff people took her by the arm and began to escort her out of the dining room. All of a sudden, she started screaming and cursing and pulling away from them! I saw the situation, grabbed a sheet from the linen cart which was happily nearby, and ran to her rescue. I asked the staff to walk away while I opened the sheet and wrapped it around her. I looked at her and said, “Why Pat, you must be very uncomfortable. Come with me.” She was so grateful to feel covered and safeguarded by someone who apparently knew her and wanted to help. We continued down the hall and into the shower room. The staff person assigned to Pat had hurried off to get clean clothing for her and quickly arrived in the shower room. I was able to leave quietly as the staff person took over, and in no time she had Pat clean and comfortable - with her dignity intact.

Absolute Ten of the Ten Absolutes is: Never Force, Instead Reinforce. This is true especially in situations we deem to be distressing, or true emergencies. To those around the situation, the natural response is to react by trying to force the person with Alzheimer's into doing something they do not wish to do (or maybe don't understand). Especially if someone the Alzheimer's patient trusts is around, they can take control of the situation and cover the “emergency” to preserve your loved one's dignity. Instead of creating an out-of-control situation that results in regret or even injury, there is almost always an easy solution that provides a win-win situation for all involved.