This weeks’ Caregiver Friday is slightly different to usual. I thought it would be nice to speak about one of the activities that I try to do with Mrs. A. I try to incorporate activities that she used to like before her illness into our day-to-day life. The nature of dementia means that, day-to-day the desire to do activities that she used to enjoy doing yesterday may mean that she wont enjoy them tomorrow. One of my failsafe activities is baking as it was a big part of Mrs A’s past and it is something that we do together at least twice a week. We are so lucky to have plenty of citrus trees in the garden, so this week we made lemon curd twice – and it was a big hit!!
We used this very simple recipe from Ina Garten. It is absolutely fool-proof. We made several jars for Mrs A and her family, for the local table top sale and some for me too. And it is so delicious! Mrs A is younger than most people with dementia so it is important to keep this in mind to also remember that she is perfectly capable of carrying out 90% of tasks but will need prompting regarding the correct order and remaining safe when doing certain tasks (like cooking the curd).
I have found that it is important that we set out tasks that we will do throughout the week on Monday. In Mrs A’s case, it is also important that we speak about them throughout the week. This ensures that when we get around to doing the task, Mrs A will remember what we are doing and participate to the best of her ability. We spent the early part of the week discussing
- What we needed from the shop
- How we would scald the jars
- What we would do with the curd when it was done
- And when we would make it.
When Thursday came around I made sure that I had the recipe to hand. I asked Mrs A could she help me and then we got down to the task at hand. I asked Mrs A would she pick some large lemons from her lemon tree. With little assistance Mrs A was able to
- get the ingredients and equipment that we needed
- measure out the ingredients
- Mix everything together
- And scald the jars
We agreed that I would peel the rind from the lemons and stir the mixture when it was cooking as it took about 10 or 15 minutes to do this and it would cause a certain amount of frustration to Mrs A if she had to wait that long.
When Mrs A’s family came home that evening she was so proud and full of joy at the tasks she had completed and that we had made delicious lemon curd. The sense of achievement was palpable and it made for some great talking points later in the day.
Providing care for someone with dementia can be difficult, but I find that spending time planning tasks for the week ahead can alleviate the stress of trying to find things for us to do on the spot and it leads to a calmer, more productive environment for us both.