So, what do you do with a drunken sailor during a pandemic?
Updated: Apr 14
(Don't you scoff at the comparison! I've met many a drunken sailor in my day - don't ask - Mom could easily give any one of 'em a run for their money in the bad behavior category.)
Did any of you dementia family caregivers chuckle just a wee bit when reading the guidelines for protection against COVID-19? I did.
Cover her mouth when she coughs - You must be joking?
Pry a used tissue out of her claw-like grasp - Fat chance!
Get her to put her hands under a running faucet for even a fraction of a second -
Maintain 6-feet of "social-distancing" - ROFL! <gasp for air> ROFL some more!
I couldn't help but succumb to a bout of exasperated snorts and snickers as I read through the CDC's recommended precautions, envisioning our stupendous success at failing each and every one of them.
Mom is a 110-pound shuffling, mumbling, randomly spitting-her-way-through-the-day germ factory, groping everything within reach, and then touching herself, passers-by who get too close, and any one of us in her household as the mood strikes her.
As with everything else, Dementia's gonna make protecting ourselves and our dementia loved ones that much more challenging.
But we're doing everything we can from daily sanitization of Mom oft-touched surfaces in the house like stair rails and door knobs, washing our hands constantly for the recommended 20-seconds, chasing Mom down with soap and warm-water wash cloths to clean her digits (whether she likes it or not), and keeping her away from the general public (for their safety - not hers).
We're also incorporating more foods that boost our immune systems (can't hurt, right?) - finding new recipes that we've all been digging on. Since the State of Oregon shuttered Mom's day respite center as of this week cooking is a good way to keep her engaged at home.
Oh sure, she can no longer perform even the basics of meal preparation, but she does enjoy standing directly in the way of whatever appliance you are attempting to access, moving all unguarded ingredients to other rooms when you aren't looking, pulling dirty dishes out of the dishwasher as you are putting new dirty dishes in, and shuffling off with the hand towels right before you turn from the faucet to reach for one.
Mom. Is. Busy! She takes the job of thwarting meal preparation at every turn very seriously which translates into an engaged, almost-fun filled hour or two for Mom, and eventually, despite the obstacles and stress on the cook, a meal for all of us.
We made an apple pie for Pi Day!
Annnnddd... Mom immediately put her hands in it.
We've also been working on our balloon volleyball skills, an activity she enjoyed at her day respite care and her brief stint in the Big House (i.e. memory care).
Obviously, I get way more into balloon volleyball than Mom, but to be fair, this particular round I was unknowingly competing for her attention with a cookie she had hidden in her clutches.
Other suggestions I've gathered from caregivers online to keep yourself and your dementia person from climbing the walls during a months-long game of hide-and-seek from a highly contagious virus...
FREE Nightly Met Opera Streams while the contagion is raging!
FREE Virtual Museum Tours
FREE Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime with friends and family who are also stuck at home
And don't forget the usual engagements...
Long drives in a beautiful countryside
Watch planes take off and land at your local airport (if there's still air traffic in your area)
Neighborhood or park walks for those who are mobile
Chair yoga or dance therapy for dementia folks on YouTube
Making some Play-Doh critters or shapes (good for those who are in the tactile phase)
Kid watercolor kits or adult coloring books
Puzzles (Mom hates 'em with a passion, but maybe your dementia person will dig in.)
So, suck it COVID-19! I've got my tricks of the trade to keep myself (sort of) sane, and Mom (sort of) happy. And if we've sunk into a despondent despair of continued confinement, I'll just shave her belly with a rusty razor early in the morning. That outta liven things up.
From our dementia household to yours, peace, health, and an
abundance of patience in the weeks and months ahead to you, dear readers!
P.S. Is anyone else feeling some level of satisfaction at the rest of the planet being stuck at home? A situation no stranger to us in the dementia world. I confess, I do get a perverse pleasure in saying "Told you so, world. Ain't so easy keeping yourself from going nuts when you can't get out, eh? Now do it with a dementia person and maybe you'll be a little bit more in tune with our challenges."
P.P.S. The Boyfriend in the Basement is a bit of a hypochondriac and fond of hoarding dirty dishes downstairs. My idea to marry the two situations and come out the winner is to casually mention how washing dishes is an excellent way to keep his hands sanitized. I might as well get something good out of this thing!