‘The 24-Hour Rule: Living with Alzheimer’s’ by Cheryl Levin-Folio
My friends have always teased me about the reading material I choose to bring on vacation. Last week was our annual Assisting Hands retreat down in Cancun, Mexico. We spent the morning in lectures and workshops learning from experts and other owners around the country about how to improve our home care business. The afternoons were a chance to de-stress a bit by the beach. As I walked by all the other lounge chairs of honeymooners holding hands and bronzed ladies reading romance novels, I looked down at my book and imagined what my friends would say – “Daniellah, are you bringing a book about Alzheimer’s Disease to the beach in Mexico? Have you lost your mind?” Well, little did they know that I found ‘The 24-Hour Rule’ to be one of the greatest love stories of all time. Showing love on your honeymoon in Mexico is a relatively easy thing to do, but how will you continue to love your partner in the face of a diagnosis like Alzheimer’s Disease?
Levin-Folio provides creative and concrete tools for other caregivers. Small changes like whiteboards that lists the date and time of daily activities, a digital watch, and extra copies of EVERYTHING are a few of many tips for making life just a little smoother and creating more time and energy to enjoy their time together. And, yes, she does recommend a healthy diet that includes dark chocolate and red wine!
Levin-Folio does everything to preserve her husband’s dignity, but doesn’t make Alzheimer’s a secret. She might tell the hostess at the restaurant that her husband would benefit from a small or round table. Now, the restaurants in town know Michael and that he has Alzheimer’s – by not making it a secret, the community is involved in his care and now everyone knows that having Alzheimer’s is not something to hide.
Levin-Folio is a true genius in the way she is able communicate with her husband without ever making him feel small. By using phrases such as, “let’s check our places,” “let’s take a shower,” or “I love those pearly whites,” and the addition of lots of smiley faces and xoxo’s, Cheryl puts herself on the same team as Michael.
Caregiver or “Buddy”? As the owner of a home care agency, one idea that really resonated with me was the “buddy program,” introduced by Matt Field at Right at Home home care agency. Michael’s buddy, Lee, was different from the traditional caregiver. Instead of showing up to work dressed in scrubs and ready to watch over Michael, Lee’s job was to take Michael out golfing or have a meal and chat about life. The buddy idea encapsulated Cheryl’s message throughout the book: let’s approach Alzheimer’s in a way that makes our loved ones feel cared about and not cared for.
For someone dealing with memory care in any capacity, I highly recommend Levin-Folio’s book. It’s an easy, conversational read without pressure to read front to back. Pick it up, read one chapter here, there, on the beach Mexico, or wherever your life may take you.
You can purchase ‘The 24-Hour Rule: Living with Alzheimer’s on amazon or view Cheryl and Michael share their story here: