Light in the Darkness: Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

I thought it strange that my mom's slipper, a single slipper, was on the floor outside of my mom's bedroom. With Alzheimer's disease, there are a lot of oddities. I didn't think a whole lot of it, but I should have. Lesson learned.

In the bathroom, the towel hamper was lying on its side. That was odd. Maybe my husband knocked it over as he left this morning.

I continued to the kitchen to let the dog out and get her breakfast. Mom, I assumed, was still asleep. I tried to let sleeping dogs lie. After getting my coffee and getting the dog situated, it was time to check in on mom.

What happened?!

I don't think I heard anything. Or was that when she called for me? Maybe it happened all at once. You would think it would be burned into my brain. I think the shock and the woulda-coulda-shoulda's swept it away.

I opened the door to my 84-year-old mother's bedroom, and there she sheepishly sat on the floor in her pull-up and T-shirt. What happened?! She tried to explain what happened in her broken, word-not-finding way.

Mom's struggle to get to and from the bathroom at night

As near as I could tell, she got up to use the bathroom in the wee hours. It was dark. I asked if she had turned on the bathroom lights. She said no, she didn't think of that. We have 3 light switches that operate 3 different lights in the bathroom and 1 outlet. I realized that, when I was getting ready for bed, I had unplugged the nightlight to use the outlet and forgot to plug it back in.

Huge palm-to-forehead moment! I. Felt. Terrible. It was my fault. The night she forgets to turn on a light is the night I forget to leave one on. Ugh!

Mom went in to use the toilet at the back of our long bathroom, then couldn't see to get back out. She knelt down on the floor to crawl, knocking over the hamper. I, asleep on the other side of the wall, heard nothing.

Piecing the puzzle together

From the apparent disarray, I deduced that she had scooted on her backside, which explained the askew bathroom rug (that I also blamed on my husband) to her room, where she deposited her wet pull-up balled up on the floor.

She had gotten a new one from her closet and managed to get it on. It was rolled up on one side, so I figured that's the explanation. She had shut the door because she wasn't all dressed.

I asked her why she didn't holler?! She said she figured we were asleep. She didn't want to disturb us or wasn't sure we would hear. She was watching under her door for feet, and then she would know we were awake. That was clever and so very sad, but not clever enough to leave the door open so we would see her or turn on a light.

What tools out there exist?

I need some low-tech ways to help my mom. She used to use her cell phone to call me. My family uses our phones like an intercom system. We also use our Echo dots to "drop in" on each other. Mom can't use any of those easily.

When we were sick as kids, mom would give us a small cowbell to ring if needed. I have one that my own kids used before they had phones. I've got to dig that thing out and put it on her night sand. She has to remember to use it.

What low-tech means or high-tech have you used to compensate for human error? I need some ideas! Share yours in the comments below.

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