I met with the guys organizing the volunteer team today. There were several things that they requested.

Living with the Alzheimer person creates a world where Alzheimer symptoms become a way of life. I take for granted walking through a store knowing that Jerry won't wander too far off. I'm pretty relaxed about it and have developed a sixth sense. My eye has an automatic peripheral vision that knows where Jerry is. (at least most of the time.) I don't think twice about ordering for him in a restaurant or cutting his food. I know he wants sweet tea.

Sometimes, I think this isn't going to work. After all, Jerry is so unpredictable. Sometimes "here" and sometimes "not". Will these folks know what to do? Will they be comfortable? I think if they can relax, just be themselves, and go with the flow with Jerry, they will be ok.

In order to make folks feel comfortable, they would like menus and favorite eating places, an id bracelet, and I suggested a "business card" that says, "Hi. I'm Jerry. I have Alzheimer disease." This would be so that the volunteer doesn't have to explain every time Jerry strikes up a conversation with someone. It's also good for the volunteer to know that Jerry will do better if he keeps hydrated and eats a snack about every two hours. They also need to know not to expect any elation or excitement out of Jerry. The levels of emotion are pretty even. It's good for them to know not to ask questions and expect an answer. It's better to lead or say, "let's do this." They might even talk about their own childhood years.

The volunteer needs to know that Jerry can't choose whether he wants a shrimp burger or a hamburger. He can't tell the volunteer where he would like to eat. The volunteer needs to know what to do when Jerry keeps asking about his wife. They need to know to speak slowly with intent. They need to know that even though Jerry may not speak...he still is listening. They need to know he is still wise. They need to know that he likes country music and movies about WWII or the civil war. They need to know he likes Dairy Queen and ice cream of any kind. They need to love his dog.

They need to walk slow and along side of Jerry. (and that is real SLOW). They need to laugh and lighten up. It'll help.

For Jerry, all it takes is someone who is kind and sincere. He's not high maintenance. He's compliant and still a gentleman. Most of all, he's very appreciative of anyone who shows an act of kindness.