Quick Search For Posts On The Following Topics:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Work Arounds - Part 1

Work-around: a plan or method to circumvent a problem without eliminating it.

(Everything here is my account of what happened to me, or my interpretation of stuff. Keep in mind as you read this that the person who wrote this has dementia. I do not recommend any of these solutions for others. Every case of FTD is different. What I am saying is that right now - today - they work for me.)

I use work-arounds all the time. Every day. Many times every day. Some of the work-arounds just happen naturally, and I do not even have to think about them. Others are specific actions that I take. All of them provide some type of support to assist me in managing my symptoms on a daily basis. The final purpose is to maintain as much of my independence as long as I can.

My major work-arounds fall into just a few categories: familiarity and routine, schedules, reminders, lists, friends, and special situations.

The biggest all-pervasive work-around is the easiest - Familiarity. I do not have to even think about it. It happens naturally. I can't help it, and sometimes have to actively work against it. It is so easy I almost overlooked it as a work-around. It is my environment. My mind automatically seeks out the lower stress of familiar surroundings. I think most everyone does this, but for me it is important.

This sounds simple, but the benefits are huge. I live in the house I have lived in for over 25 years. This makes every day easier. I know where almost everything is located. I know where to put things away. If I can't remember where something is, I know where to look for it. Everything I need is right here. I know what needs to be done, and how to do it. I know the smells and sounds of this old house. It is comfortable and familiar.

This expands to include the whole town. I know my neighbors. I know where everything is. I know all of the streets. I can find all of the stores. I know where stuff is located inside of the stores. It is all comfortable and familiar.

This ever-present familiarity is a big help. I automatically gravitate to the familiar. The less I have to think about doing things - the better. Thinking is hard! That is probably why I am still living in a 4-bedroom hundred-and-ten-year-old house all by myself (except for Kroozer!). That, and right now it is cheaper to keep her. My house payment is less than many rent payments.

Because I live in a familiar place, I also have familiar routines. Routine is another work around. Everyone who works has a morning routine, or would never make it out the door on time. Most people probably also have a routine at bedtime. I do not have to think about it, but I get it all done.

I get up around the same time I have for years. I pretty much do the same things in the same order every morning. Same in the evening. When I get ready to go out, I have the same routine each time.

Routine helps me to get done what needs to be done in an organized way. It may not always run as smoothly as I would like, but it works. I get my shower, get dressed, have my coffee, and take care of Kroozer. It is natural, and does not require much active thinking. Simple.

In addition to the passive natural extensions to where I live, and the routine of doing what is comfortable and less stressful, I have a lot of other specific active work-arounds. Most of these would fall into the category of reminders. Though memory is not my most debilitating symptom, along with my ADHD-like problems it requires the most work-arounds.

If I do something right away I do not need a reminder, so that is a work-around. Do it now! I frequently stop what I am doing to take care of something that is quick to finish before I can forget to do it. Bills immediately go into the bill organizer. I have always been a master procrastinator, so this is a real active work-around to accommodate my memory and ADHD-like symptoms.

A related work-around is to put things in the same place. Like putting the car keys in the same spot on the counter. Even if I cannot remember putting my phone down, I know it should be in one of 3 places. Usually it is!

The next obvious work-around is the use of lists and notes. I usually have a daily to-do list. It not only serves a a reminder of what to do, but also helps to plan and organize each day. There is always a shopping list in progress as I see that I need to replace items in the pantry.

I do not use many sticky-notes. I do use an erasable white board on the refrigerator for quick reminder notes. These are usually spur of the moment short-term items like stuff that may come up in a telephone call. Something of importance may also go here in addition to other lists as I see it regularly.

While my to-do lists work for the daily things I want to do, I also use a big calendar with lots of writing space. I use this to keep track of things on a weekly or monthly basis. This is where things like doctors appointments, and insurance deadlines go. I also keep other important notes and records on this calendar. I usually keep it in plain sight on the dining room table.

And that is another reminder. I put it in plain sight. One of the best examples of this is that I keep my medications right next to the coffee pot. When I make my morning coffee, I am instantly reminded to take my pills. Also, the coffee, coffee-grinder, sink, coffee-maker, and pills are all on the counter-top organized from left to right in the order I need them. In plain sight, and all in the proper order. It is a subtle, but very effective work-around.

Of special note, and worth mentioning, are a few work-arounds I do just for safety. I probably wouldn't need to, but why take a chance? If I have a fire, or something on the stove, or I am adding water to the pool - I set the timer. It is a reminder, and I guess it is a work-around just in case I forgot, or got things out of order, or got distracted. I do frequently use work-arounds just for safety.

I also use work-arounds for situations which come up infrequently, or require a unique solution. Since this post has turned out to be about 10 times longer than I intended, I think I will address these in a future post. This is not a very exciting topic, but it is a big part of my day-to-day living.

I realize that if you were to spend the day with me, you would probably not even notice most of my work-arounds. The calendar, and the to-do lists are obvious. The others are just incorporated into my daily living.

Comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment