Kudos are in order for a great little pizza place, named Paula’s Pizza in New Bern, North Carolina. The reason I mention them is that they are so accommodating to the Alzheimer residents at Jerry’s home. Once a month, the activity director and her assistant take those who are able on a little outing for lunch. The residents are patiently lined up in the back hallway, rolled out a few at a time to the bus and taken to their seats. Those who can walk, sometimes help with the others who are in wheel chairs. Each resident is loaded with care, wheelchairs, walkers and all. It's at least a 45 minute procedure. Once everyone is seat belted in, they truck on over to Paula's Pizza for lunch.
Paula’s Pizza has tables all lined up, ready for the crew to arrive. The unloading is quite a spectacle, but the restaurant is very accommodating. Each resident is treated with respect and dignity as their order is patiently taken. With the help of the staff, it's mind reading at it's best! Mini pizzas or spaghetti dishes arrive piping hot with little side salads. While everyone needs their food cut, but most of them can feed themselves with only a little prompting. Some dementia patients, like Jerry, are able to feed themselves physically. Jerry can hold a fork but just needs reminding of what to do with it. If the food is good, he'll eat it. (If it's meat and vegetables, he'll ignore it. Go figure!)
Outings really can't last for much more than an hour and a half. Scheduling is essential because of routine, bathroom needs, etc. Once pizza time is over, the activity director pays the bill, while the other staff members begin loading the bus again and off they go, back to their home.
These outings are a welcome change to the daily routine. It would be easy just to let the residents roam around the halls, day in and day out. Each new activity brings a little energy to their day. WORK best describes the efforts of lining them up, loading them, unloading them, ordering, feeding, loading and unloading again, but it is worth it. It's important to givie an alzheimer patient as much "normalcy" as possible in their journey.