Ever since we began our journey in Alzheimer’s world well over eight years ago, My Love has been a Cookie Monster, not to mention his craving for ice cream. Hence the titles to the two books, Is There Any Ice Cream? and Did You Hide the Cookies?) In truth, not a day goes by that he has not asked me those exact questions . . . and, yes, I do hide them.
My Love is now in late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. I see big changes happening, I witness memory slides I would not have believed years ago. I have to be the encourager, keeping him active as much as possible. But COVID-19 has taken a toll on those at high risk, who are restricted to staying distanced, even isolated. He will do some basic chair exercises with me each day. He still smiles when I play John Barry music, so I try to play it often. On the TV, it’s the old black and white, ‘calmer’ movies, with familiar actors and simpler plots, that tend to keep his attention.
Otherwise, I find My Love is not interested in doing more than watching the digital photo frame rotate through the pictures of his family one more time. He still points to pictures of himself to tell me “there I am” or “that is me” almost as if he might be forgetting that connection himself. I rarely ask if he can tell me who everyone else is at this point – it makes him feel bad when he cannot answer.
And so when I hear My Love clattering in the kitchen I recognize that his interest has begun to wander, telling me he is bored.
That’s when I go find a couple pictures for him to colour or paint.
(Download below two sets of free drawings from the internet for colouring )
I put out his brushes and watercolour paints, and a small glass of water (heavy enough so it won’t tip over). Then I drop water on a few colour squares and begin to paint a flower petal or sky so he knows what to do.
Generally, My Love follows my lead and takes a brush from the water and continues to paint the picture. He currently remains engrossed in painting for about an hour, which is a long time compared to other activities. I now offer him much simpler pictures to colour than I did a year ago. In fact, a year ago, he was drawing and painting his own compositions that are now framed on his Gallery Wall. (Read Art and Music As A Brief Intervention in this site.)
When paints no longer interest My Love, I find a picture book he loves to look through. Pictures of the world from the sky. My Love used to look at it for hours. Now his attention span is greatly reduced. But if I sit with him and we talk about each picture, he stays with me and looks at the book. I love doing that, but can’t do it all the time, so I suggest it when I can sit for a while.
But time and Alzheimer’s have stolen his desire to do much. Some days I see that the disease has removed his memory of even creating those original pictures. I am glad he still likes to paint. It occupies his time and is something he still can do. But mostly, he truly is happy to have completed a picture when he is finished.
I feel good when My Love smiles and tells me, “I did that.” His tone tells me, “of course!” Watching him paint is a warm fuzzy for me, too. 😚
And the cookies? I just this minute took two little chocolate stick cookies and placed them on My Love’s table with a napkin. He just looked at me.
“What are those for?” he asked me, in all seriousness.
I put my pinched fingers toward my mouth.
“Are they for me to eat?” My Love asked, as he imitated my movement, putting his empty hand to his mouth. I’m not sure he connected with “cookie.” I could not believe what I had seen. I smiled and shook my head yes. He smiled in return.
Does that mean his love for cookies is slipping from his memory . . . is the memory of loving cookies fading? It will be sad for me, but My Love won’t even know.
Another new day is dawning, and as always I just have to remain flexible, in the present and lovingly helpful.💕🌷
I share here, a download of 12 drawings on white background I found FREE in various places online. If your loved one likes to colour or paint, use them. You need a printer or maybe someone can print them out for you. Art has been an activity that has provided many happy hours for My Love through the years. I hope it will for your loved one, as well.
DOWNLOAD 1 DRAWINGS (set #1) -14 pages, in pdf format
DOWNLOAD 2 DRAWINGS (set #2) -12 pages in pdf format
Another Day Dawning (c) 2020 Judith Allen Shone
BE PREPARED for the role of caregiver…my stories from my life as a spouse-caregiver are written in real time just like the stories I tell here. Read the stories I share to become prepared for life in the world of Alzheimer’s!
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