Not quite the plan

on finding my groove as a 30 something single girl and caregiver for mom with dementia


And the puzzles get easier.

Mom always enjoyed jigsaw puzzles.  I have fond childhood memories of working on puzzles with her through the winter.  For a few of them,  I even have vague memories of some of the images of the puzzle and the feeling that it would be impossibly difficult.  I suspect Mom was doing 99% of the work.

So in trying to find activities for Mom now, puzzles seemed an obvious choice.  Two years ago, my first pick was a 1500 piece Christmas puzzle that I thought would keep her occupied.  It did, for more than two months!  She frequently stopped me to exclaim,  this puzzle is a b-i-t-c-h-.  And be rather pleased to be using such a shocking term.  I think that puzzle might have been called a b-i-t-c-h- more times than my mom otherwise used that word in her entire life.  My sister and I helped and the three of us managed to finish.  Mom made some contributions but I realized that Mom was going to need easier puzzles. 

We experimented with 750 piece puzzles for adults that were still too difficult.  I found rows of similarly colored pieces covering our puzzle table, few of which ever found their way to connect with other pieces.   We started buying 500 piece puzzles.

I discovered that puzzles with huge swathes of the same color were out.  Mom simply gave up on those parts.  A beautiful scene of various colored fruits seemed a better fit so I bought that and Mom got a lot of it done on her own about a year ago now.  I was thrilled by her accomplishment.  We left it put together on the table for a month.  

Not long after that, I realized that Mom had no more sense of the edge pieces versus the middle pieces.  She was stacking up the pieces chaotically.  Still I encouraged her with extra large 300 piece puzzles.  I found myself putting them together while she moved pieces around on the table.

This Christmas I ordered a 36 piece puzzle made for adults with dementia.  Mom has done it with her caregiver 5 times now.  She needs more encouragement and the occasional nudge,  but she is still doing her puzzles. 

Two years.  From 1500 to 36 pieces.  The progression of this illness shocks me. 




Sometimes I find myself struggling  for activities that are more creative for Mom.  The other night she was feeling quite talkative after a long week in which I did not have a lot of time for her, so I was trying to make it a quality bonding evening.

Unfortunately, her stories can be hard to follow.  After listening to four attempts to tell me stories that were all slightly mystifying, including a moment of asking me whether I had ever met her husband (that would be my father!), I decided that we needed a new activity.  As we had chatted we had been watching and discussing my cat whose antics provide a lot of entertainment to Mom.  In watching my cat, I was suddenly reminded of the quality entertainment that is the crazy cat video on YouTube.  I pulled out my computer and we watched two different crazy cat videos to Mom’s absolute delight.  She was particularly amused by a ridiculous  series of cats sliding/ leaping into cereal boxes that was quite new to me.  It was wonderful to see the most genuine laughs I had gotten from Mom in months.  It used to be easier to get her laughing quickly and whether it has been my busy-ness or her declining communication abilities, there is a bit less laughter around our house.

YouTube is definitely going on my list of good activities for us.  It will be an interesting project to dig up some of the creative videos out there, so suggestions are welcome.  There is a quite a world of entertainment that Mom has yet to experience…