Sweeping Gators Away: A Real Memory Care Success Story

What would you do if your loved one described seeing alligators crawling across the floor of your… living room? Surely you’d say “Oh come on, there are no alligators in here!” What if this went on, day after day, hour after hour, and your loved one became agitated, reactive, frightened, and fixated?

As your stress levels soar to dangerous levels and your frustration grows, you can physically feel the toll it is taking on you, both mentally and physically.

Hallucinations are a common reality for people living with dementia. They are unpredictable, and often evoke strong emotional responses in the person experiencing them. For care partners, this can be a perplexing scenario.

Our AlzBetter Dementia Coach and CSW, Bri, recently helped a patient and their care partner in this exact scenario.

The average care partner has not received adequate education and support for how to care for their loved one living with dementia. This lack of knowledge can make supporting their person more difficult. In our scenario, the care partner’s response had been to try and correct and reason with their loved one which usually ended with both individuals getting upset.  Using the AlzBetter Micro-Learning tools, Bri was able to help the care partner learn better, easier ways to manage this situation.

Instead of arguing and risking further frustration, Bri coached the care partner to join their loved ones’ reality. ….She instructed them to pretend to sweep the alligators away with a broom. Much to the care partner’s surprise, it worked! Both the patient and the care partner shared a laugh, and the patient’s attention was successfully directed away from the problematic hallucination.

The care partner reports that this strategy continues to work, and the days of gators crawling the living room floors seem to be behind the couple.

Do you have your own success story of a time you jumped into the world of your loved one living with dementia, to solve a tricky problem? Please share in the comments!  

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