Ideas for Dinner / Evening / Bedtime Schedule Challenges?

Posted by KMKM @kmkm, Oct 30, 2019

I’m challenged to keep my mom occupied during the hours while I make dinner and when she goes to bed (usually 4-5 hours.)
I need to focus on my tasks of cooking, clean-up and any evening chores and I don’t know how to keep my mom occupied.

TV might work for an hour or so. But most of the time she wanders and says, “What should I be doing?”, or, “I want to go home.”
I’m sure part of the problem is that I’m working in a different room…she’s anxious when she can’t see me.
Mom is not content to pull up a chair in the kitchen and watch me.
And she is completely unable to help in almost any way–her OCD and inability to carry out the steps of any task cause her to give up in frustration after about 30 seconds, and then she wanders away.

Thanks for your thoughts!


Hi @kmkm and everyone, I merged the 2 similar discussions about evening activities into one discussion to bring everyone into the same virtual "room" so to speak.

Kmkm, members have shared some novel ideas so far. Is there one that you think might work for your mom and situation?

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Hi Colleen. Wiping the counters might keep mom occupied for a few minutes. And folding napkins another minute or two…

I perceive that mom does not enjoy most tasks partly because of her not remembering how to do them (i.e. how to sweep, set the table, etc.) and also because she seems to have a strong drive to "do it right" and gives up because it isn't the way she thinks it should be (i.e. pulling up the blankets on her bed, folding a towel, matching socks, putting away clean utensils…)

I can't teach her how to remember a skill, and I can't talk her out of her needing to "do it right" and giving up.
As coloradogirl mentioned in the post above, "I'm coming to understanding that if anyone is going to change, it has to be me rather than her because she just doesn't have the capacity to change."


Thank you, virginianaeve. I've tried giving her napkins to fold. Her interest lasts about 1-2 minutes.

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Shoot. Have you tried putting headphones on her with some of her favorite music playing in her ears? It's worth a try!!


Thank you coloradogirl. When thinking about your ideas, I must confess that I enjoy doing daily chores (including making dinner) without having to stop and redirect my mom, and I'm wondering if I subconsciously resist "reducing the amount of time" I'm occupied by these things? I do remember as a young mom being frustrated in a similar way, but at least when my kids were little their attention spans allowed them to play with a toy, or each other, for a certain length of time. If I did implement some of your time-saving ideas, it seems like I'd have even more time I'd have to keep my mom occupied in the evening. Thanks for your thoughts.
Maybe I'll start a new discussion thread asking for sample dinner/evening/bedtime schedules and how others manage its challenges while also caring for an easily distracted person with dementia…

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In thinking about managing dinner time when my two oldest children were little (11mos apart) I would only cook a home cooked meal every other night, or I would batch cook several meals while husband or someone else was present. Then I had leftovers and time to devote to the kids.
Other times I would hire a teenager to spend an hour while I was there, either playing with the older child,
or mopping the floor or loading the dishwasher, It was inexpensive and both parties benefitted. I also "bartered" time with an adult neighbor with teen children.. She would cook a meal, or do some housekeeping or babysit (at my house) and I would provide transportation for her dr. visits, as she could not drive. We both enjoyed the companionship.
I don't know if any of that would work for you, but sometimes it wasn't a matter of scheduling but having an extra person come to your home to engage with your mother.

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