Tuesday, March 5, 2013

When a Refrigerator Looks Like a Toilet

My shows at Tucson are finished. It was, as always, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. Our long time customers asked about Bob, wanting an update, wanting to know he’s all right.  It felt odd doing the shows without him, even though it’s been six years since he’s participated. 
About ten days into the exhibitions I received an email from Made, my office manager, with a report on Bob. Made wrote:
Bob’s in good health but he’s peeing everywhere – in the garden, in the wastebasket, and even in the refrigerator. When the caregivers say, “Bob, the toilet is over here,” he shouts, “This is the toilet!”
As always with Alzheimer’s, just when you relax into thinking you’ve got it figured out, new challenges crop up needing to be addressed in an inspired way. So a few months ago a large photo of a toilet with an arrow pointing to the bathroom was placed in a prominent spot to help guide Bob. Pictures often work better than words in Alz World.
We painted the bathroom bright yellow in contrast to the lilac room adjacent. We thought we’d made it easier for Bob, and for us, but it was a short-lived solution. And just to be sure it wasn’t a physical problem he was checked for a bladder infection.
The French Alz Angels, who glided into my life last year with answers to perplexing Bob problems, told me, “If you want the person to open a door, paint it a different color than the surrounding wall, and if you don’t want them to open a door paint it the same color”. 
Bob’s kitchen has royal blue curtains in front of the under-counter shelves. He doesn’t go to these shelves – they seem to have disappeared for him - so we're having another curtain made to drape over the fridge in the hopes he'll forget it’s there. This may not work since Bob has an impressive appetite and frequently forages in the kitchen at odd hours, but it’s the only solution we've come up with so far to keep him from seeing the fridge as a toilet.