Ch.133 Creative Dining the Lewy Body Way
Mealtimes with Pat can be intriguing adventures. Today, for example, Pat decided to push her luncheon of peas and macaroni with ham off her plate. She wouldn’t or couldn’t tell me why. It wasn’t that Pat disliked her meal and she said she was hungry. Nevertheless, Pat was determined to push the food off her plate.
Now what am I going to do, I asked myself. How could I help Pat eat her lunch? My first try was to explain to her that it was not a good idea to push her food off the plate – it would mean she would miss her meal and be hungry later. You can guess how well that “logical” approach worked.
My second theory was to race Pat; I would gather food with her spoon and bring it to her mouth to eat before most of it was wasted. That worked a little better but Pat eats slowly. She was winning the race.
And then I had a moment of clarity. I remembered a story my brother Don told me years ago. Don was an early practitioner of strategic therapy. Here is one example he shared with me many years ago. Imagine that you have a cat who keeps pissing in one corner of the bathroom. No matter what you do with punishment or reward that stupid cat won’t stop pissing in the corner. So, what can you do? Answer: move the kitty litter box to that corner!
That’s when I realized I needed to accept Pat’s actions rather than argue with her or try to circumvent them. I placed my spoon beside her plate and caught the macaroni with ham and the peas as Pat pushed them over the side. Then I either fed her or replaced the food on Pat’s plate. To my amazement I realized I was now enjoying our interaction. We had mutually created a new approach to dining together. Of course, this may be a one-off, meaning Pat won’t keep pushing food around and/or this solution won’t work next time. But today in this moment we were smiling together.
People with Lewy Body don’t play by conventional rules. It’s my job as Pat’s care partner to try to match her creativity with my own. When that happens, we can turn a minor crisis into a positive experience.
Pat’s comments on: Creative Dining the Lewy Body Way
Ron to Pat, “Do you know why you keep pushing the food off your plate?” Pat: “No.”
Pat, angrily, after Ron takes her glass of juice away from her just before she tries to pour it on the floor: “Why did you do that?”