When I remember Gene Wilder, I think of Willy Wonka

When I remember Gene Wilder, I think of Willy Wonka, my childhood fantasy movie.  Alzheimer’s struck Gene and no one learned of this until he passed away.  This article was very powerful to read as it is from Gene’s wife’s perspective.  Karen explains her journey.  I found it helpful for caregivers to read how she would eliminate the cause of his frustrations, such as the pull-string to his pants.  This is something I think caregivers just miss.  It is mostly because eliminating the frustration is an admittance that the disease is progressing and their loved one is experiencing a loss in their independence.  I find myself coaching caregivers to watch for frustration and inability to perform such small tasks and assist in eliminating the cause. 

It’s really in the way we look at it.  For example, a person has an incontinent episode.  The situation was really that the person knew the feeling of having to use the toilet, accept was faced with the challenge of unbuckling the belt, undoing the button, unzippering the pants, and pulling the pants down prior to sitting on the toilet.  These are sets of tasks that someone without Alzheimer’s just does.  For the person who struggles with the disease, each of those tasks become very difficult.  When the person shows signs of frustration and inability to complete these tasks, it is our job to eliminate the struggle and offer an alternative.  In this case, elastic waistband pants would afford the person the opportunity to be successful in the attempts of remaining independent and continent. 

Even though Gene’s Alzheimer’s was hidden from the world, Karen has decided to allow Gene’s Willy Wonka character to be used in a new video campaign “Pure Imagination Project,” to assist in bringing greater awareness to the disease.  Read on to see more…

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