For some reason, I can never get the code right to open the door to my parent’s apartment building. I buzzed up to say I was there then started my way up in the elevator. Mom remembered how to buzz me in, unlock the door, and had started walking down the stairs by the time the elevator arrived on their floor. I called to her and she came back up, greeting me with wonderful hugs.
Hmm, I thought to myself, Mom is still capable of getting outside by herself.
About a year ago, maybe more, I got a panicked call from Mom because she was lost. She was out of breath, on the edge of tears, unable to recognize any landmark around her. It didn’t help that I was two hours away by car.
First I got her to stop moving. Then I asked if there were any people around who could tell her where she was. I called Daddy on the other line and together we rescued her.
This is one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s—confusion with time and place. People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
Mom wears an ID bracelet that has her name, address and phone number etched on it. And we are careful to always accompany her when we go out, even on the busy streets of Netanya.
We are worried about a situation where Mom might decide to leave the house by herself without anyone knowing. What if she wakes in the middle of the night and wanders off? At what point should we hide the keys?
Here’s another worry. Mom makes tea all the time by putting water in the electric kettle, placing it on its base, and hitting the switch to turn it on. Sometimes she forgets how to do this. Once, she put the electric kettle on the gas burner but luckily couldn’t remember how to turn the burner on. That’s why we keep the burners covered with a large Plexiglas plate and the gas turned off.
If Mom is gone too long in the apartment by herself, we tend to worry. When I went to find her yesterday, she was in the bathroom shaving. Should she have access to razors, scissors, and nail clippers? Could she inadvertently hurt herself?
Yes, we could hide these items from her. And in fact, there may come a time when we do. As of now, Mom is managing to take care of her physical needs by herself. We are following her lead. If we try to interfere, Mom gets angry and fights her loss of independence. We’d probably do the same, too.
It’s nice to eat foods you can depend on, those that comfort and taste the same each time you make them. One of the comfort foods my daughter loves is schnitzel. Making these warms the kitchen up on a cool wintry day.
I find it less expensive to buy whole chicken breasts and slice them myself. If I buy about 1 kilo (or 2.2 lbs of chicken), I can slice it into about 10 to 12 good-sized steaks. My daughter makes me hammer them with a mallet to thin them out. Be careful to remove all the bones and cartilage. You might even find a whole wishbone!
10-12 uncooked chicken steaks (schnitzels)
1 ½ cups golden bread crumbs
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika
Oil for frying
Prepare the following before you start frying.
In a large frying pan, pour oil to the depth of half the pan.
Mix bread crumbs and spices in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, scramble eggs.
Set up a colander with a paper towel at the bottom for the finished schnitzel; tear several more paper towels and leave on the side to place between schnitzels.
When the oil is hot (you can test it by flicking a drop of egg into the pan), take your chicken steak, dip it in egg, cover it with the bread crumb mixture, and fry for about 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Turn schnitzel and fry another 2 to 4 minutes until cooked through. If you’re not sure it’s cooked through, use a knife to make a small slice in the middle of the schnitzel. If you see pink meat, return to pan. If clear juices run out, it’s done.