Maureen was up early yesterday morning and decided to make a sandwich for herself. Seeing her struggle to find what she needed, and satisfy her need for a snack, brought tears to my eyes. It made me realise that I have probably deskilled her by becoming the in-house chef as she has now forgotten how to make a sandwich. This experience has reminded me of Clarice’s haunting words that ‘once someone with dementia stops doing something, they will never be able to do it again’.
For a while I became very distressed about what appeared to be Maureen’s dwindling functional capacity. At first the scene in the kitchen raised major concerns about the speed that Maureen’s dementia was progressing. Then I realised that I had unwittingly added to her struggle. The kitchen could not have been littered with options on every work surface unless there was choice over what to put in her sandwich. Her problem was in choosing which cheese and margarine to use.
Making sure we are well stocked in provisions is not a priority when dementia is an unwanted intruder in your lives. The most important thing is to have the basics clearly on display so it is easy to help yourself to a snack. I need to keep focusing on the basics of KISSS if Maureen is going to have any chance of retaining a semblance of independence.
During the afternoon I sat in our lounge for some time watching Maureen trying to remove a tissue from a pocket in her cardigan. It took her ages to sort out how to find the tissue as she sat with her cardigan on her lap. She has a similar problem with zips as she can no longer fathom how to find the fastener and pull the thing up. Unfortunately, I don’t think tiredness is the issue here it seems likely that fasteners are now a problem.
Maureen had several periods when she was ‘resting her eyes’ yesterday. I have a feeling that sleep is her response to boredom. If she has something to do she stays awake but housework seems to be her only time filler at the moment. This is something of major concern as she often says she is fed up with cleaning up or doing the dishes.
As the evening drew to a close Maureen went to our bedroom for quite some time. She appeared to be hunting for clothes, so I left her too it. Frustration appeared to follow and as she looked tired I encouraged her to go to bed. Once again I had to remind her where she slept, and she made it clear she didn’t want me in bed beside her.
I slept fairly well in the spare room until Maureen yelled out our around 2 am. She came out of her bedroom in a hurry, apparently afraid of something. Once she saw me she seemed to calm down but promptly declined my offer of joining her in the marital bed. She shut the door firmly and I have not heard her since.
I have already been up a couple of hours this morning. While I have been decluttering a little more, I have also been having a few thoughts on our situation. I have some ideas that may help Maureen to retain, or even regain, her functional capacity. It also strikes me that having someone to talk to about her feelings might help. As problematic as the former is, the latter is even more difficult. I can try things, and ditch them if they are not working. Suggesting to Maureen to open up to someone about her feelings is something of a different order: old habits die hard!