Alamo Wash where it crosses Calle Betergeuse, 9/3/13
Today was a work day, a week, day, and a particularly busy one. On the rare occasions when I take my Dad out on weekdays, it's almost always a Tuesday or a Thursday, because I get off work earlier on those days, and don't have to drive across town. Usually I don't take him out on a weeknight, though. I didn't do it today. I try to discourage him from even thinking he might go out on a weeknight, so that he's not disappointment. It's right on his whiteboard, standing note #3.
Dad's whiteboard was a really good idea that John had, based on Jan having used a cork bulletin board in Dad's rehab room in Wilmington. It was a little valentine I made, a picture of some of his old N-scale layout reassembled at the Wilmington Railroad Museum and, hanging off the bottom, a floral still life he painted. But the rest of the board is full on my all caps, handwritten notes. I apologize in advance for the all caps below:
MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY
1. FRANK EATS DINNER DOWN THE HALL BY 5 PM. THEN FRANK CAN RETURN TO HIS ROOM.
2. KAREN WILL VISIT FRANK SOMETIME AFTER FRANK'S DINNER.
3. FRANK IS NOT GOING OUT EXCEPT ON WEEKENDS, AS LISTED BELOW.
TODAY IS _______DAY!
SATURDAY - KAREN WILL PICK FRANK UP ABOUT NOON [time varies as needed] FOR LUNCH AND ADVENTURES. AFTERWARD FRANK EATS DINNER DOWN THE HALL AT 5 PM. KAREN DOES NOT VISIT FRANK AFTER DINNER.
SUNDAY - KAREN WILL PICK FRANK UP AT 9:50 AM FOR CHURCH AT ST. MICHAEL'S, FOLLOWED BY COFFEE HOUR AND LUNCH. AFTERWARD FRANK EATS DINNER DOWN THE HALL AT 5 PM. KAREN DOES NOT VISIT FRANK AFTER FRANK'S DINNER.
This set of messages has evolved over the past seven months, as I worked out and implemented a routine, and adjusted the wording to make the meaning as clear as possible and as easy to remember as possible.
It's a lot harder than you might think.
I used to try to list, day by day, what time I was likely to arrive, but he would obsess over the exact time. Once I came in and he did not want to look away from the clock on the cable box. He had apparently been watching it for an hour, noticing each change of minute. Goodness knows what he thought would happen if he stopped watching it!
The sentence about returning to the room was added after he took to hanging around the dining area after dinner, waiting for something else to happen. He had no idea what that something might be, but was disappointed that nothing happened, other than my eventual arrival. I've had to explain to him many times that he should not wait for me to arrive before eating dinner. (They close the kitchen at 6 PM). I'm almost never there at 5 PM, but because that's the only time given for weekdays, he half expects me at that time. The concept of "after" is only vaguely understood, if it's even remembered.
One Sunday night, just a few hours after I returned him to the Cascades, I got a call that he was agitated, trying to push his way out the locked door to walk to my house, despite having no idea how to get there by foot. That's when I added the part about not visiting after dinner.
And so on. It's a continual challenge.