Is my mum able to learn something new?

Aquaria

Registered User
Dec 10, 2012
12
We finally had my mum's 1950's gas cooker replaced at the weekend with as similar a cooker as possible but with a gas safety cut out feature. The neighbourhood is now safe as we have had several episodes of escaping gas but my mum, so far, is unable to ignite it. Consequently her diet has now worsened.
My brothers and I are trying to teach her how to hold the knob in for 3 seconds in order to maintain the flame but she can't get it. Is it actually possible for an Altz sufferer to learn or is it hopeless? Just wondered if anyone had any success with teaching a sufferer new things.
 

Butter

Registered User
Jan 19, 2012
6,738
NeverNeverLand
There are no rules- but most experience suggests it is more difficult.

Does she need to cook? Many people come to rely on food that does not require cooking.
 

Aquaria

Registered User
Dec 10, 2012
12
There are no rules- but most experience suggests it is more difficult.

Does she need to cook? Many people come to rely on food that does not require cooking.
Her diet wasn't great but she was in a routine of warming some milk to go with her cereal, and then would make some toast under her grill. After that we suspect it was cake and chocolate. Now I feel we have forced her into a further decline in order to protect her.
 

Fed Up

Registered User
Aug 4, 2012
464
We took the mains contact breaker out of mums cooker to stop her cooking. Gas frightens me can she smell it when she leaves it on? I really sympathise my mum ate cardboard micro wave meals, ok from M&S and tesco.

Its difficult can you heat up the milk and put it in a thermos? toast is easy just get an electric one that could be much safer. Troubles like these are part of the worry about Dementia that you'd think some enterprising manufacturer would be able to resolve really.
 

RobinH

Registered User
Apr 9, 2012
265
London
learning new things

Hi

Sorry, it's unlikely she will learn. Perhaps it's time for meals-on-wheels? Can she use a microwave? If not, perhaps get them delivered hot (appetito etc), or if she has carer visits, get them to microwave from frozen.

A toaster might be easy enough, and also far less dangerous than the cooker.
 

Linbrusco

Registered User
Mar 4, 2013
1,600
Auckland...... New Zealand
I bought Mum a new microwave with less buttons... She needs reminding time and time again how to put it on for 1min at a time.
I think I will put masking tape on all buttons apart from the 1 min, Start & Stop.

I bought her a new simpler folding collapsible washing line. Mum still can't quite get the hang of it.

I bought Mum a bright green plastic box to go on her kitchen counter top to put her glasses and all her important bits and peices that she loses every day. She thought it was great
I found the box in her wardrobe. :rolleyes:

Yesterday she caught the bus to the shopping mall. This was the first time in 8 mths
:eek: Dad knew she had gone, I was at work.
Thankfully she was there an back in 2 hrs and even caught the right no. Bus

It never ceases to amaze me what Mum and cannot do and sometimes there is simply no rhyme or reason
 

1954

Registered User
Jan 3, 2013
3,835
Sidcup
My MIL is absolutely unable to learn anything new. Sorry I can't help with any suggestions
 

sistermillicent

Registered User
Jan 30, 2009
2,949
I would imagine it is very unlikely that she will ever get the hang of it but as someone else has said there are no hard and fast rules. The great thing is that she and the neighbours are now safe from a potentially dangerous old gas cooker. If she has never had a toaster I don't imagine she would be able to use that either unfortunately.
My mum no longer enjoys things that are hot, she seems to like to things that have gone cold (quite far advanced in her AD). I know it sounds unlikely but we have come to realise it over several months, and it isn't doing her any harm as far as i can tell.
 

Anongirl

Registered User
Aug 8, 2012
2,668
My experiences echo Linbrusco's completely.

When my mum left the gas on several times we considered a new cooker but tried the microwave first. I marked exactly where the turn the knob to. It became a nightmare for me with so many conversations about how to do it which ended with her burning her meals. I suspect because she was turning the knob over and over again.

In my experience whenever I think I have solved a problem my mum finds a way to make it a problem again!

Sorry to be negative.

A carer now puts her micro meals in. Not ideal but at least she is eating x
 

Aquaria

Registered User
Dec 10, 2012
12
It doesn't sound positive but we'll persevere. I'm afraid she has never used a microwave and toaster but she is a survivor, and perhaps she'll find a way. She won't starve, that's for sure but our actions to protect her and others have taken away 2 of the very few things that were familiar and routine for her. Thanks for the flask idea. Unfortunately I live 90 miles away from mum but can try it every weekend.
Thanks everyone for your comments.
 

pippop1

Registered User
Apr 8, 2013
501
My MIL too seems incapable of learning anything new now. When our area changed to digital TV we bought her a new TV as her old one was on it's way out anyway. She still hasn't worked out how to put it on and off. Next we bought a new special dementia -friendly remote control that says OFF and ON on the huge buttons but she still can't manage. She doesn't really recognise that it's a TV half the time "What's that big board thing there?".

On the other hand, with her central heating boiler she used to fiddle with it and turn it down or off and then phone British Gas to say it wasn't working (ten times in a month!) and they would call round and turn it up. It was 30 years old so we had it replaced by a modern one and put a big sticker on it saying "Automatic - do not touch" and she doesn't. Swings and roundabouts.
 
Cookers are a problem: we bought Mother a new cooker with flame safety device, after coming home to kitchen full of gas, but she hasn't been able to learn about holding the knob in. I think I'll try writing a note to stick on the cooker ... but she'd probably decide it was ugly and remove it. She "can't abide" the look of the cooker anyway and doesn't think she's got a grill any more (old one had eye-level grill, illegal to get a new one as it's too near a fixed cupboard under new regs!). Again, solving the safety problem has meant she can't at present cook (but hasn't done much cooking anyway for years, as we're living with her - though she likes to stew rhubarb or apple from the garden, too often forgetting them and burning them). But fortunately she's used a microwave for a long time and is OK with it for heating up meals if we're out for a few hours.

If your Mother can cope with a microwave there are wonderful firms who will deliver once a fortnight straight into freezer - and the meals don't even need to have the plastic pierced, they just go into the microwave. Mother's twin sister, who lived alone, used them and felt she'd done her duty to herself nutritionally (and had a dietetics training so knew what she was about - no dementia there). One with a name conjuring up agriculture in a county west of London was the one she used.

But getting back to question "Can people learn new things": Mother's developed one or two new routines: we got her a commode and she decided to keep it in a spare wardrobe (late father's) and gets it out every night, empties the potty and puts it away every morning, as if she's been doing it for years. When she's in the carehome respite room she can, as far as I know, remember the way back to her room. But she'll look in her diary, see the day centre where she goes 3/week, has been going 3 years, and say "What's xxx? What do I do there? What do I need to take? Do I need to pay?", over and over. Perhaps she can learn by doing, but not learn memories associated with words. I really need to try to help her with the cooker.

It's all so difficult.
 
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pippop1

Registered User
Apr 8, 2013
501
I'm not sure that you can plug big appliances into timers? We bought my MIL an extra electric heater for the winter and it specifically said not to use it with a timer.
 

Jessbow

Registered User
Mar 1, 2013
2,944
West Hertfordshire
In an 'operational ' sense, no I wouldn't with a fan heater use a timer ( to say come on for an hour and off for an hour) What I meant was push the pegs in just so it couldn't work, say between 6pm and 8am, same as switching off at the pug overnight. If someone always cooked their meal at say lunchtime, you could set it to
go off at 2pm, until the next morning