With Amanda’s working memory skills slowly improving, she isn’t yet at the stage where she is able to venture into the kitchen other than to prepare breakfast, a hot drink or a sandwich. Things like planning, setting goals and carrying out sequenced tasks still require work and, like everything which aids improvement, constant repetition.
On Sunday I prepared a roast chicken dinner. I thought I’d test her knowledge so just asked;
“So, what would you do?”
She thought for a moment and then, slowly but surely listed all the ingredients, the utensils and pans required, how to prepare the meat and vegetables and even the correct temperatures and cooking times.
I’ve also noticed subtle improvements such as taking the initiative by making sure doors and windows are shut or putting partly eaten food into plastic bag or containers. While these sound simple and obvious, behind these mundane and everyday tasks is a highly developed hierarchical decision-making process which as fully functionng adults we all take for granted. Its only when these faculties are damaged or disappear that simple things become impossible to work out and have to be re-learned.
One ongoing challenge has been keeping in touch while I’m at work – a 30 minute drive away.
When Amanda left hospital a medical alert bracelet was suggested. But she was discharged because she wasn’t sick. Neither did she have any ongoing illness.
She is recovering.
While her walking required ongoing therapy, at that point (and still) she has never fallen. With a support worker currently visiting for 2 hours per day her longest period alone is 4 hours – one of which she usually takes a nap. A medic alarm would not allow me to monitor her.
Coincidentally a month before her stroke we had installed a security system which can be monitored from a smartphone. The camera which originally pointed outside now sits at one end of the kitchen allowing me to check she is OK whenever she is in there.
The other issue was being able to check on her in the lounge, remotely. I eventually stumbled on the fact that if you have a Google account, it allows one device to access another. This means my smartphone can access the PC in the lounge and switch on the cheap webcam attached which points at the chair where she sits. By displaying the image on the PC screen I’m able to also see it on my phone.
Finally, after the frustrations of trying to re-teach her how to text, I realised Facebook Messenger has a video call facility.
When I call her phone it brings up a big green camera icon which is very easy to identify and press. With wifi at home and at work this allows us to talk whenever we want. This means I can give her reminders about exercising or emptying the dishwasher.
Motivation on a little but often basis is the best way to help her maintain concentration and avoid fatigue.