You would think that writing a simple shopping list was something everyone could do easily and quickly. Watching my mum try to write hers this evening has opened my eyes to the ongoing practical issues of dementia. Firstly, she is anxious about the whole prospect of shopping. She does not know what she wants. She does not want the effort of going. She does not want to keep “putting people out” by asking them to take her. Shopping is fraught with difficulties and my mum cannot see past them.
So, I help her. I watch her at the pantry door surveying the shelves. She does not know what she is looking for. She asks me what it is that she is looking for. A hard-enough job, if the item is there on the shelf, but harder still, if you are trying to see something that is not there and you need to buy.
She is then at the fridge and looking at a carton of crème fraiche. It is out of date. I know my mum usually has this on tinned fruit during the week. I suspect she may have forgotten till now she had it. We agree it is probably OK for a few days yet. She shuts the door and looks at me. She has totally forgotten totally what we are doing. She opens the fridge again.
I invested in a blackboard a month ago, to help us write things down as we found things we needed. She has never used it. I use it now, but she does not like it. She does not like that there is evidence that she cannot remember things. No amount of reassurance, that lots of people use a similar board to build a shopping list, helps. But I have used it this week and it is nearly full.
I remind her of the list and we add things to her shopping list. She protests that she likes the list to follow the route in the shop. We rewrite the list to follow this usual path. This is a great idea and will help her a lot, rather than going backwards and forwards in the shop which will just disorientate her. I wonder how she has been managing to do this without help. I am glad I am here now.