I’ve often thought that a large part of caregiving is either preventing or solving problems. I haven’t tried to keep a tally of my victories and losses, but we seem to have gotten along reasonably well. Of course, one of the reasons is that I keep discovering things that Kate can’t do. That’s when I grasp that I am the one who has to change and adapt to what she is able to do.
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I had taken photos of the primary screens that she faces when working her jigsaw puzzles. I thought that was a pretty clever idea. When I shot each photo, I put my index finger on or up against the button or place she needs to touch in order to pull up the next screen. How could I go wrong?
It’s not really hard at all, to go wrong that is. All you have to do is think like someone who doesn’t have Alzheimer’s (that would be me) instead of one who does. Kate couldn’t connect my photos with what she was seeing on her iPad even though they were almost identical except for my finger in the photos. I worked slowly with her for about fifteen minutes before I could see that what I was doing was causing her more frustration than the problem I was trying to solve. It is actually much simpler for her to ask me what she should do next than to translate my pictures and do it herself. When I stopped to think about it, her system was working for her all along. I was really addressing my problem of having to get up from my chair to help her.
Her most critical problem seems to be her eyesight. That’s true whether she is looking at the screen on the iPad or my photo of the screen. That relates to her Alzheimer’s and not to the physical properties of her eyes. As well as I can understand it, her problem is knowing where to focus her attention. She is faced with an array of stimuli and is confused about which one(s) to attend to. She does, however, choose the correct ones most of the time. I’m guessing that because there are times when she goes for a good while without asking for help. Other times I see that she has chosen the correct one. I don’t know how to explain that. It’s as though she knows one minute and forgets in another.
One of the most frequent problems she encounters occurs when she touches a button for the store located in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. When she does that, she is presented with a large collection of puzzle packs for purchase. When she touches a puzzle pack, she gets a screen asking for the password. Then she is stuck because she doesn’t know it. That is a time for help. The button for the store is small enough that I am surprised that she sees it. She often can’t see the button that says “Play” that scatters the pieces so that she can reassemble the puzzle. It is about three times the size of the button for the store. I think there are so many pictures of other colorful puzzles behind the “Play” button it is too difficult for her to see the green button she should touch. I think I will continue showing her what to do each time she runs into a problem. In time, that may help her learn to touch the correc button more often than she is currently doing, but, perhaps, it won’t. She depends so heavily on her puzzles for entertainment I will do everything I can to help her continue with this pastime.