Bob has an answer for everything and it's usually the same one.
He's just put jam on a small block of wood that in a vague way resembles toast. You and I would have no problem telling the difference but for Bob, it's toast.
"Bob, that's wood. Better not to put jam on it," Wayan, the caregiver on duty says, trying to dissuade my husband.
"So what?" Bob says as he tries to take a bite out of it.
"Bob, that wood might give you a splinter."
His teeth make a second attempt but the wood proves too hard and he ends up licking off the jam - another lesson learned in Caregiver School. There'll be no more blocks of wood lying around the house.
How do your answer a 'So what?' It's an abrupt end to the conversation leaving the caregiver scratching his head trying to come up with an alternative plan. There's no reasoning with someone with Alzheimer's. At least we've learned that much! Even if the person could understand reasoning, it would be quickly forgotten and you'd be back to square one anyway.
Most evenings before bed, Bob disassembles the sheets and blankets. He puts the sheet over his head and tries to walk, child like, imitating a lighthearted ghost. The boys laugh while trying to keep him safe. They even videoed him one evening so I could have a chuckle too.
The caregivers are mostly resolved that they'll have to remake the bed later but on the rare occasion that they're tired and ask him to stop they're met with the, "So what?" This is Bob's secret weapon - an attempt to keep us from monitoring him, an attempt at a modicum of control over his life, an attempt at a moment of freedom. And we haven't yet figured out a counter to it. Caregiver school is an on going process.
|"Cleaning the Garden" 2009|
When he's in a 'So what?' frame of mind, the art of redirecting falls short. The boys have gotten pretty good at this 'trick' as they call it. "Bob, there's ice cream in the kitchen," works ninety percent of the time to get him off focus on whatever he's obsessing on that might not be good for him. But it can't penetrate the 'So what'.
Bob always had a wry sense of humor with excellent timing. He could make me laugh in a flash of a word. I figure as long as Bob is safe we have to let him have this card, this joker laughing at us. In the end what does it matter. "So what?"