Should Loved Ones with Alzheimer’s Pitch in with Chores?

Should Loved Ones with Alzheimer’s Pitch in with Chores?
When my children were little, I would ask them to help me with the mundane but necessary tasks that came with everyday living. “Please do the dishes.” “Pick up your toys." “Don’t forget to make your bed.” At the time, their dimpled, sometimes dirty, and pudgy little hands were far less equipped for completing the tasks than my over-30-year-old, experienced ones. Though these were imperative teaching moments — hands-on study of the importance of hard work and responsibility — my inner frustration accompanied their education. What would take me five minutes (really, only five) they would drag out, as if on purpose, to 10, 20, 30 minutes or longer.

It would have been easier if I’d just done it myself. 

Caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease can be a similar experience. He or she likely has not only learned how to do hard work but also has been working hard for decades. Everyday chores are typically second nature, at least in the early stages of the disease. But while muscle memory may take over, cerebral confusion tends to get in the way. Instead of the warm suds once used to douse dishes in, your loved one may forget to use even a little soap. Cabinets become catalysts of confusion, as this isn’t the house in which they grew up, though your loved one could’ve sworn they're in that house at that very moment. As a result, you find mugs in the drawer under the stove, food particles left on the silverware, and chips in your favorite china. Really, it would’ve been easier if you’d just done it yourself.

Chores build self-esteem.

Believe it or not, allowing your loved ones with Alzheimer’s to partake in the
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