Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book Review: The Best Friends--Part Two "The Knack"

Bob DeMarco from the Alzheimer's Reading Room writes:  "Television is a good baby sitting tool, 
it is not a good Alzheimer's caregiving tool.  In fact, too much TV will bring on the "dull"  faster than a speeding  bullet."  

I just never know how to involve my husband in "meaningful" activities.  "Wouldn't it be just great if he could do puzzles!" people suggest.  "Can you keep him busy?" you ask.  He watches old movies most of the time. This is what he wants to do. I am concerned, but yet trying to work to pay off bills for when I have to stay home to take care of him. He loves being retired and with our dog.

All I do know is that he is contented and I realize as a caregiver I must be doing somethings correctly--that I have a "knack". He loves it when I call him while I am away, but doesn not seem depressed at all.

It's like adopting a special needs child but not letting them know they are deficient but showering them with love. Perhaps there is no need to educate my husband on what is coming down the pike for him, that he should be doing puzzles. Ten years ago I knew very little about dementia and so did he. When he was diagnosed with dementia in December of 2008, he just said he felt fine. We do compensate for his short-term memory with a daily clipboard and regularly talking about what is happening for that day. He has changed, but is not able to do any more than what he is doing. Next week we are trying to incorporate exercise at the gym, however.

The Knack, according to the authors, is a whole set of caregiving behaviors.
Caregivers who successfully learn the Best Friends model of care will develop knack, or the ability to do something easily, and will learn many tricks along the way. Knack for families is all about resilience, about surviving the disease, about providing good care, and about enjoying moments with the person. It is about the quality of life, for the person and his or her loved ones. It is about working through the pain. One door is closing and another is opening. pp. 101-102
They say elements of knack include: being well-informed, having empathy, respecting the basic rights of the person, maintaining caregiving integrity, employing finesse, knowing it is easier to get forgiveness than to get permission, using common sense, communicating skillfully, maintaining optimism, setting realistic expectations, using humor, employing spontaneity, maintaining patience, developing flexibility, staying focused, being nonjudgmental, valuing the moment, maintaining self-confidence, using cueing tied to the life story, taking care of oneself, and planning ahead.

Take the area of communicating skillfully. This means one idea at a time. No pronouns to referred to something or someone in the previous sentence.
Take valuing the moment. I have been working all week and have things to do today, Saturday. He doesn't want to come today, and is content to stay home. So we went to dinner last night. He loved it. At dinner he told me he loves me, loves the restaurant and loves his dinner which he slowly ate. I told him that I loved being with him. I didn't have a smart phone to play with, I don't text, I was there for him. I praised the LORD in my heart for this great date knowing what may come down the road with Alzheimer's. I valued the moment.

I think it comes down to having "the knack" as we are in Scripture and growing in the fruit of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control
Self-control is really needed in Alzheimer's care. We can't always control the anger or moods of our loved one, but with God's help we can grow in self-control. Speaking of self-control, I am soon off to my 7 am Weight Watcher's meeting and then on to a Toastmaster training event.


  1. Great post. It's so helpful to have help along the way, to read and learn for we all are 'babies' in this caregiving journey

  2. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou Great quote for "The Knack". Carol