Dementia: Four Knives and A Fork

As I donned my chef’s outfit yesterday to prepare Sunday Lunch Maureen asked how she could help?  I suggested she could lay the table.  She moved into the dining room and began setting out the table.  When I caught up with what she had been doing I noticed she had put ou four knives and a fork.  There were no place settings with cutlery and table mats randomly scattered around.

Maureen  then offered to help with the preparation of vegetables.  She coped well with chopping peeled carrots but struggled with the cauliflower.   In the end she asked me to take over.  My sous chef is finding it increasingly difficult to make a helpful contribution in the kitchen.

If I supervise Maureen closely  things are done in a safe and helpful manner.  Leave her to her own devices and danger lurks, with attempts to boil the kettle with the lid off alongside other random behavior.  When she helps with washing up; dirty pots are often on the draining board alongside those that have been cleaned.

When we sat down to eat Maureen decided that it was too warm in the dining room.  She drew the blinds and then couldn’t work out how to open the patio doors. Then she decided her knife was sticky.  She returned from the kitchen with three and asked me if I had one.  I was already eating with all equipment at hand.  She then decided that her fork was sticky and went to replace it.  She had  laid the table with the ‘sticky cutlery

Maureen said she wasn’t really hungry, as we had recently had lunch.  All she had eaten earlier was breakfast.  When we moved to the lounge to eat sweet she spilled food on her T Shirt.   She  went to wipe it off and returned without her sweet. It took her some time, and my help, to find  where she had left it in the kitchen.

After dinner we watched TV for a while and I suggested it was time for a siesta.  I was relieved when she took up my suggestion as we had walked a fair distance before lunch.  After half an hour Maureen woke up and decided it was time for bed.  I didn’t tell her it wasn’t even 7 ‘o’ clock as she was obviously tired.  ‘Half asleep’ as she puts it,  she struggled to get ready for bed, even with my assistance.

The events of the afternoon led me to regret not progressing an additional carer sit over the weekend.  Just another body in the house helps me to cope more easily with Maureen.    My extremely capable wife is no more, and another pair of hands is so welcome.  I think the time is approaching to have carers on hand most days: so that I have the energy to keep Maureen fed, watered and safe.

Just to be on the safe side I initially decided to sleep in the spare room last night.  Maureen has  closed our bedroom door.  She seems to do this when she isn’t quite sure who I am.  I didn’t to risk a repetition of the other night with more of those deafening screams .

Once in the spare bedroom I heard her moving about next door.  Thinking she might become confused, and anxious, I entered the marital bedroom.  As I slipped into bed she let out a loud scream.  I reassured her it was me and she said ‘I had frightened her as she didn’t know who it was’.  Maureen apologised for screaming and we soon settled down for the night together.

When Sue our new social worker comes to get to know us on Tuesday, she will hear that Maureen’s verbal ability is intact. Maureen will confabulate to put on a good show.  She will pull out all the stops to convince the social worker that she is ‘sane and doesn’t need to be locked away’.  If Sue asks her if she reads she will confabulate that she scans the newspaper daily.  If she asks her to put on her reading glasses Maureen is unlikely be able to find them, as they have  been missing for a week.

There is a vast difference between what Maureen will spin and reality.  Maureen ‘lost her memory once’ as she frequently explains it.  Good luck Sue as you try to sort out the conflicting realities and get to know us.

About Remember Me

I am a retired adult educator. My wife had a stroke in February 2014 and now has mixed dementia. Her recovery from stroke has been exceptional apart from 50% loss of peripheral vision and vascular damage. 'Dharma For Dementia' is my approach to being Maureem's Care Partner: it aims to end the suffering of 'Prescribed Disengagement' (Swaffer) .
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4 Responses to Dementia: Four Knives and A Fork

  1. I’ve read the last few posts to catch up. There are so many things happening, and so many things that have the potential to go wrong: it’s dizzying. Medications, side effects, uncomfortable clothing, sticky silverware, and countless uncertainties. Maureen must so often be in a state of apprehension and “on the verge”, just barely holding it together, but without realizing why. It’s a delicate (exhausting) balance you work to manage at all times.


    • Remember Me says:

      With all this going on she is still singing along to YouTube. All I have to do is put on the right music and she is singing like a lark. I count my blessings and hope to minimse distress when ever it arises.


  2. Gill says:

    I somehow missed this post. All of it sounds so familiar – especially laying the table and being able to pull it out off the bag to others. I now take a written summary of robs condition for the professionals to read – and then they can ask questions and chat to rob about his reality, knowing it is not mine. I know you are anti medication, and I respect that , but it has been my lifesaver – and the fact rob is now sleeping (and me too), his dementia has improved significantly. Fortunately he has no side effects from the drug that you are very unhappy with – mirtazapine 30mg – at the moment he is absolutely fine with it!


  3. Remember Me says:

    It is possible that if I hadn’t had side effects from Mirtazapine I would still have been on it! I would also have believed that it cured my depression. How liberating to find I didn’t need medication: all I needed to do was review how I saw things. I’m not anti-medication I am concerned about over-prescription of tablets.


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