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MelissaBPhD's podcast

Aug 26, 2021

In this episode of This is Getting Old podcast, listen if you are coping with handling an older person or loved one going through repetitive verbalizations and Alzheimer's Disease. 

Let me tell you a story of two residents that I used to take care of a long time ago — Walter and Miss Lucy and how we managed their behaviors.

Every day, about three o'clock in the afternoon, Walter would begin to yell, "I'm a bad man!" And he would do that all the time. And the irony is, Walter used to be a pastor when he was younger. But as soon as that happened, instead of giving him some medication to manage his behavior, we knew we just needed to take him out to have a cigarette. 

When Miss Lucy would start calling the hogs in her wheelchair shouting "Zoe! Zoe!" in the afternoons, we knew that it's time that she needed some snuff or smokeless tobacco. We would give her some snuff, and she would take off down the hall. 

Key Takeaways:

✔️ If a patient with advanced Alzheimer's is a lifelong smoker, we can no longer change that behavior as carers. While smoking isn't ideal, one way to manage that behavior in a non-pharmacological way is to give them what they needed at that time, which was nicotine. 

✔️ The same thing could happen with someone that you're caring for. Think about their habits before, and it could be they need caffeine, going for a walk to get some exercise in.

If you have questions, comments, or need help, please feel free to drop a one-minute audio or video clip and email it to me at, and I will get back to you by recording an answer to your question. 

About Melissa Batchelor, Ph.D., RN, FNP-BC, FGSA, FAAN:

I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing ('96) and Master of Science in Nursing ('00) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON). I genuinely enjoy working with the complex medical needs of older adults. I worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home, and office visits), then transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer. I obtained my Ph.D. in Nursing and a post-master's Certificate in Nursing Education from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing ('11). I then joined the faculty at Duke University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. My family moved to northern Virginia in 2015 and led to me joining the George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing faculty in 2018 as a (tenured) Associate Professor. I am also the Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health, and Humanities. Please find out more about her work at