Thursday, February 16, 2012

Floating Heads

When I was taking care of my mother a young woman in my National Guard Unit told me not to wear black when working with my Mom.  People with Alzheimer's see black as a hole.  So if you are wearing black they see a hole with your head floating in the air above it.

After having this conversation I told this story to my mother's caregivers.  When I read Jolene Brackey's book "Creating Moments of Joy" she has a short article titled "White on White".  Until I read the story I had not realized that wearing white and standing next to a white wall had a similar effect.  Your hands and face would appear to be floating.

In the article she asked what color are bathrooms (white)? Toilets (white)?  I had my aha moment.  My mother had not been able to see the toilet or bathtub.  No wonder she fought about getting into the tub, or sitting down on the bath chair.

If I had a magic wand I would give every family a copy of Jolene's book.  It is filled with common sense.  It is filled with ways to share moments of joy with family members that have Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.  Simply it is a great read.  It is filled with short stories that take only a few minutes to read.  It is filled with practical wisdom.

I met Jolene at a conference hosted by the Montana Alzheimer's Organization.  I only wish I had met her earlier.  I think her materials would have helped me create more moments of joy with my Mom.

Jolene has developed material to help families communicate better with their family members.  Her website talks about her material and how to find ways to have great conversations when you visit.  Jolene has generously shared information and some handouts  (look for handouts).

I loved listening to Jolene tell her stories.  She loved creating moments of joy with the people she cared for.  She loved even more, in teaching us how to create moments of joy for ourselves.  I am grateful for the moments of joy in my life.


  1. Hi Ruth! This book looks wonderful! There have been a few times when my husband's 'sight' seems to have played some tricks on him, so when I read that, a light bulb went off in my mind. Thank you for the review and the high recommendation!

  2. There is so much we don't know. I wish I had kept journals when I took care of Mom. But at the time, emotionally I couldn't do it.

    I learned about brain gym during that time. I would do some of the exercises with mom. I had some amazing experiences. S'cool Moves has a foundation in brain gym.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this. If you were on twitter, I would re-tweet it. Great info to pass on.
    Rosemary @standing_firm on twitter.

  4. I am on twitter as both LibraryDragon and Storykeeper. I don't do much with either them.

  5. Sorry, I should have written LibraryDragon7 as one of my twitter names.

  6. Things we just don't know...!

    This information is so very useful, as you never know when in your life you will be dealing with or even just casually chatting with folks with Alzeheimers.

    Just the simple fact about seeing black and white is so enlightening

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us.


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