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Saturday, December 8, 2007

My Alzheimer's Caregiving Experiences - Some Moments on The Lighter Side

After driving down a long gravel road through the mountains, I arrived at a ranch nestled in the coastal foothills one day, to assist a 94 year old gentleman who had Alzheimer's. His wife explained they had started their dairy farm in the 1920's. This was before their farm had indoor plumbing, central heat, electricity, and refrigeration. The huge red dairy barn sat next to a beautiful creek. Originally they had milked all the cows by hand and delivered the milk in cans by driving a team of horses and a wagon down a dirt road to a pick-up station.

The first evening I was a caregiver there I began to clean up the kitchen after dinner.

I took some of the scraps out to throw in the grass next to the creek for "the animals", as directed. It was getting dark. Suddenly I heard a wierd sound from nearby that cannot be described. My heart began pounding.

A large animal was moving quickly toward the scraps as darkness fell. As I hurried back to the house I heard more similar noises. By the light from the house I saw another movement.

It was a huge bird, dragging a long, enormous tail. It had to be a peacock.

When I got back into the house I told the couple what had happened. They laughed and explained they had not just one, not just two, but five peacocks. The next day I saw one sitting about ten feet up in the fork of the tree by the front door. I hadn't known they could fly.

I was staying for several weeks on a row of 24 hour caregiver shifts. I got used to seeing the male peacocks come up to the windows suddenly and flare their six or ten foot wide gorgeous tails out.

My client with Alzheimer's loved to watch the peacocks. He was unable to be ambulatory, and used a wheelchair. He had lost most of his verbal ability. But he still enjoyed the beautiful peacocks showing off their feathers outside the windows.

We joked that the peacocks knew I was the one who threw out the scraps, so they were peering in the windows to beg for treats. It seemed as if they knew which room I was in, and gathered at the window.

We kept ourselves amused every day by watching to see what the peacocks were going to do next. It provided a lighter side to the day, and I still laugh when I think of it.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your peacock story. My mother, who had Alzheimer's, would come to life when hearing a cardinal sing. She'd even imitate the bird--she couldhistle even after her words began to dwindle.

~Carol D. O'DDell
Author of Mothering Mother

Kristi Marie Gott said...

Thank you for your comment! Kristi