Keeping the Mind Busy

Diagnosis Dementia ~ Prognosis Hope

In the world of Dementia there is a fine line between keeping the mind busy and keeping the loved one occupied.  It would seem busy work might stimulate the senses over and over without a memory to keep track of passing time.  

Seriously.

I’ve been told so many things about needing to keep activities on hand to keep my mom busy and/or occupied. We have adult coloring books from every genre. We have word find books, crossword puzzle books, and Sudoku.

They work for a while, depending on the day. I was looking for activities that might help on the days Mom was bored by the books. I stumbled upon Dementia-minded dominoes and color/shape matching cubes. They’re interesting, but haven’t held Mom’s attention for long at a time as of yet.

My sister-in-law was looking for something Mom might enjoy at Christmastime when she stumbled upon this “new” version of the old number-slide game. Remember these?  This is one of the first handheld devices used to entertain little hands and it didn’t even need recharged!  It was about 4” square in size and was “church-approved”. My grandmother carried one in her purse. My aunt remembers playing with one in church when she was a child! And I am sure all of my cousins remember it too! It was always a challenge to get the numbers in order from 1 – 15 and probably took a good deal of the sermon time to make it happen!

My brother and sister-in-law brought this little gadget to our house around Christmastime and Mom spent hours getting it in order. She’d mess with it until she got it all in numerical order, then proudly leave it on the table.  Sometimes it would take her all afternoon, but she’d stick with it until it was in perfect order.  A day or two later I would mix up the numbers. Before bedtime, Mom would have it back in order. We did this off and on for a couple of weeks! It seemed to be very satisfying for Mom while she worked to get it exact! 

This morning the number slide was in order. I had a little time so thought I’d mix it up so Mom would have something to do with her hands if she got bored this afternoon. But today was different.

The numbers would not move.

In fact, they wouldn’t even budge! 

I took it to my husband for closer examination. I thought maybe Mom had bent the edges down with a pair of pliers to keep it in order. But when I handed off, I realized something else! Discolored, sticky streaks on the bottom of the otherwise shiny surface.

Yep!

Glue residue. With perfect fingerprints!

Mom had GLUED the numbers down. In numerical order.

Now NO ONE could mess up her work this time!

Or EVER again!

The first handheld, church-approved, family heirloom is forever glued into perfection. Not ONE number square even wiggles. It is one solid, handheld device in perfect order from one to fifteen!

Which brings me to a whole new set of questions!

  • Where is heaven’s name did she find glue?
  • Where is the glue now?
  • And when did she do that without someone catching her in the act?!!  (Have I told you we have a nurse on duty 48 hours a week and my mother is NEVER left alone?)

Quite obviously, in the world of Dementia, keeping someone occupied does not correlate with redundant repetition!

Published by judithkaywrites

Judith Kay has spent her life observing, listening, questioning, accepting, challenging, and wrestling with life’s toughest questions. Her writings reveal the answers, enmeshed in the tangled, sometimes messy analogies from everyday living. Judith Kay’s rural Iowa upbringing planted deep roots in core family values, a solid work ethic, and a humble spirit. These traits are personified in characters with deep convictions and heartfelt struggles. No stranger herself to disappointment, struggles, and grief, Judith Kay presents characters that wield their way into your heart, inviting you to seek your own answers along their journeys! Moving fluently between works of fiction and non-fiction, life-changing implications draw you into Judith Kay’s stories—sometimes challenging, other times affirming. Her quick wit and keen sense of authenticity keep you engaged. Her characters stay with you long after the story has ended. Out of My League continues with the second book in the series, A League of Our Own, due to release later this year. Stay tuned for more publications by Judith Kay including works of non-fiction, Household Faith, stories and analogies from Momhood, and Diagnosis Demetia, Prognosis Hope, a journey through Dementia, and Unspoken-nes, on Death and Dying – on Life and Living, observations and experiences with grief.

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