“Good morning, it’s time to get up Robert.” Robert opened his eyes and didn’t know where he was or how he got there. The woman standing over the bed was a stranger. She gently shakes his arm and smiling says, “Come on wake up.” He wondered, “Am I dreaming?”
Robert tried to speak but came to an empty place in his mind; the words weren’t there. The void widened and he couldn’t remember what he was going to say. He became afraid but then his fear turned to agitation and anger with this stranger. Who is she anyway and what is she doing? Leave me alone!
He began to resist her efforts to get him out of bed. She keeps talking but he can’t understand what she’s saying as he stubbornly refuses to cooperate. Robert didn’t want to get out of bed. Everything is too confusing.
The woman pulled off the blankets, sat him up, put on his slippers and then pulled him up. His legs were wobbly and wouldn’t move. He couldn’t feel them. Robert looked at his feet trying to get them to move but they didn’t respond. With a tight grip under his arm she gets him moving as he awkwardly shuffles to keep up with her. She takes him into a long hallway. It was terrifying and looked like it went on forever! So many doors.
He wanted to tell her to slow down but his words jumbled. She seemed in a hurry and dragged him reluctantly along. She smiled but her face seemed frozen and he could see she was irritated. It only added to the fear that was slowly mounting
What if the aide had woken Robert up with a soft voice saying, “Good morning Robert, I’m Margaret and I’m here to help you get ready for breakfast? Let’s put on your robe and slippers. Ok are you ready? I’m going to help you stand up. There we go, now let’s start slowly walking. Don’t worry I’m holding you tight. You are doing great. The dining room is down the hall just a little way and we are having your favorite, scrambled eggs. We are almost there, just a little further. Here we are. Let’s sit you next to your friend Alex and I’ll get your food.
Whether the person with dementia is in a facility or in the family home it is essential when waking them up, even after a nap, to introduce yourself and explain what you are about to do. This is especially important if they are losing communication abilities. Even if you are his wife greet him with, “Morning Robert, it’s me, Jane, your wife and I’ve made you a wonderful breakfast.” Then continue explaining each subsequent step.
This can start everyone’s day a little better.