In a prior posts (including staying on schedule, logging progress and challenging fears), I talked about putting together lists and organizing my mother’s time and space. It’s a process. Every time we fix one piece, there seems to be another that needs an adjustment. These aren’t wholesale changes – just tweaking around the edges. Changing out one spreadsheet for another. Switching out furniture for something easier to use. Editing some instructions on how to use X, Y and Z to include more pictures. Simplifying … everything.
On one level, it seems like a second job (albeit more of an “after school” job than a real full-time one) to continue to update the various processes and arrangements in order to optimize our routine. And that’s when it hit me. It’s an ongoing process … there is no lasting state of “optimal”. We will never get to “final”. Whenever we get close, the situation changes and we need to adapt.
Knowing that this will never end actually helps. It’s not that we keep missing the target as much as it is that the target keeps moving, sometimes only slightly and sometimes more. So rather than hitting the bulls eye, we hit an outer ring of the target or occasionally miss it altogether.
Sometimes the changes are minimal – e.g., we adjust the spreadsheet Mom fills in everyday to add in a few more items for her to track. Did she eat breakfast and take her medicine? It used to be a foregone conclusion, but now it’s something we track. When the coffee machine broke, it was a major change. Weeks of walking through how to make coffee – she can now make coffee in the morning without my help, but I have post-it notes and a white board in the kitchen with instructions.
This is life with an older person. They want consistency and the same patterns and we strive to have the same structure and schedule everyday. The problem is that they are not necessarily consistent over time. Their drifting capacity requires some level of change to adapt to their needs. I hope the day never comes when Mom cannot make the adjustments. As long as she can adjust, even if it takes a long time to get there, we can work together to make sure she can be as independent as possible … in a dependent sort of way.