Self Help

DOWN HOME: A very short self-help book

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Being a fan of self-help books I can usually find something to read which will ease my mind, even if I don’t intend on taking the authors’ suggestions.

I didn’t have a very large collection on raising teenagers until the youngest turned 18 and by that time I had enough books to have my own library. As soon as I thought I could quit looking for a book title to fit my life crisis, mom passed away and I inherited dad.

There were plenty of books on how to deal with parenting your parents. I found books on seniors’ medical needs, financial worries and hundreds of titles on aging. What I really was looking for was something which might be called, “Five Steps to Remember for Those Who Forget.”

I thought about writing it myself, but the five things which made life easier for dealing with dad’s dementia really wouldn’t be much of a book, although there’s nothing better than a little self-help you can read in five minutes or less.

It’s the back-to-the-basic which made the days run smoother during those years of being dad’s caretaker. Amazingly enough, I’ve discovered this strategy works well for all the men in your life.

1. Everything you want him to eat put on the top two shelves of the refrigerator. It’s safe to put favorite snacks on the bottom shelf or crisper because they’ll never look there. When they ask, and, inevitably they will, “where’s the … (whatever he can’t find this time), I can automatically respond with, “on the top shelf,” because we all know if you say “I don’t know,” they will stand and stare into the fridge until you get up and find it for them.

2. The secret to getting leftovers eaten is to wrap them in clear wrap. Most are scared to peek under aluminum foil and it’s way too much effort to pry open the Tupperware lid, plus if they have to look at the leftovers for several days, they will eventually eat it, in the hope it’s replaced with something else.

3. If you make it, they will eat it. Prepared food prompts the family to think there’s food in the house. The cabinets and freezer can be full of food but they will insist there’s nothing to eat if it’s not been prepared and on the stove or in the fridge. They will even eat sandwiches if I pre-make and put in baggies, but will opt out if they have to pull out the bread and make it themselves.

4. When you want to redecorate, hang new items in place of the old. They will only notice empty spaces and additional nail holes. If you want to get a man off of the couch in a hurry, just start hammering.

5. Use the age-old art of writing notes rather than having to constantly remind him, “the family is coming over on Saturday” and of course, in this household, “I’m sorry I broke …” As the smallest self-help book on the shelves, I would wrap it up with: “if all else fails, hide the remote, that will get their attention.”

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