I first noticed a correlation between Miss Cathy’s mood and the cutlery drawer around the same time that her vision started playing tricks on her way back in the early spring.
It seems her brain, diminishing by dementia, was telling her healthy eyes that they were weak, causing her to not recognize familiar objects like a knife or a fork and she couldn’t see clearly enough to read anything smaller than billboard sized type.
Her cognitive skills were affected too, making it next to impossible for her to learn new ways to compensate for her loss of vision and to adapt to her ever-changing circumstances and she seemed to complicate even the simplest of tasks.
Spring turned into summer and after many fits and starts, including the (sudden and unexplained) return of (some of) her vision, there was some improvement but putting the dishes and the silverware away could still be quite the challenge.
Her difficulties weren’t confined to the kitchen either; while sitting in the living room it wasn’t uncommon for her to turn the TV off by mistake or to switch the remote from cable to video mode (which completely throws her for a loop) and she’s not able to switch it back.
She would come get me most of the time when this happened, other times I might walk past the living room (and ‘not’ hearing) the familiar sounds of a courtroom, game, or talk show I’d just pick up the remote and correct the problem, and (sadly) there were those times when she’s just sit there, staring at a blank TV screen.
It’s heartbreaking to see her in those moments when she seems resigned to her fate, as if the disease is some sort of punishment for a past transgressed.
I’ll look at her, wondering what she’s thinking when she’s sitting in silence and wondering if I should step in and say something to break the spell.
Instead of just doing everything for her (automatically) whenever something goes awry, I’ve learned to take a moment, assess the situation and (if it’s pretty obvious that she’s not lit her hair on fire) I’ll help when I can and encourage her to do for herself whenever possible-if possible.
So, sometimes ‘I ask’, other times ‘I do’ and there are some occasions when I just ‘let her be’.