I’ve always thought that if Miss Cathy won’t do the things recommended (by doctors, specialists, social workers and mental-health care professionals) to keep her mentally challenged (things like crosswords puzzles, reading, exercising, socializing, or knitting) then she could at least be conscientious of keeping her surroundings organized and clean.
So, putting away the silverware and keeping the drawer organized seemed like a no-brainer to me when it came to keeping her brain stimulated.
One day I asked Miss Cathy to join me in the kitchen for a little tete a tete and quickly realized after watching her struggle that there was more at play then simple indifference to order.
She stood there trying her best to correctly place a spoon in it’s proper place in the drawer and to stand on her feet, laboring the entire time to do both.
After five minutes I simply couldn’t take it anymore and put an end to the task.
The fact that she has so much trouble standing is an unfortunate but direct result of her lack of exercise (the blame for which I lay at the feet she can’t support herself up on for very long) but that’s her choice and I learned long ago to pick my battles (after losing that one).
But her inability to distinguish what goes where and how to get it there in the cutlery drawer is something that she has little to no control over.
Miss Cathy’s brain isn’t firing off the neurons or whatever it is that fuels her ability to problem solve, and as we discovered after consulting several doctors, her brain is also playing tricks with her eyes.
And when she’s having one of those bad days it can affect everything from forgetting how to perform simple tasks, mood swings, to asking me the same question over and over again.
So, now that I know all of this I just remind her from time to time to be conscious of what she’s doing (whether it’s replacing the cutlery, her posture, hygiene or any number of little things) and she either responds or not.
Alzheimer’s is not only about keeping your loved one safe; it’s about learning to respect their limits and boundaries.
And it’s been important to learn that her mood swings, depression and confusion come and go, the same as her ability to put away the silverware.
I always thought that if Miss Cathy could stay ‘aware’ of the little things then one day the big things won’t be as daunting…or so I hope anyway.
As for the cutlery drawer, it’s become more than a place to retrieve eating utensils; it’s a Rochard test, a crystal ball, tea leaves at the bottom of an empty cup whose chaos or order is a glimmer into the mind of Miss Cathy.