Struggling with Problem Solving

Struggling with problem solving

Some of us are just not very practical when it comes to everyday planning, and finding solutions to tricky problems. That is quite normal, but we generally still manage to be able to survive from one day to the next, planning the mundane things like grocery shopping, keeping the house clean, keeping ourselves clean, and paying the bills. We don’t need to be a rocket scientist to do this kind of problem solving or be good with numbers. If we can’t pay the bills from a financial perspective, we invariably know where to seek help. This type of problem solving is just part of everyday living.

Sometimes things do get on top of us. We make the occasional mistake when balancing the cheque book, which is completely normal if we are tired or unwell. Of potential concern, is when we find something that we used to manage easily, instead becomes overwhelming, such as keeping track of the monthly bills. At this point it may be time to raise your concerns with a health care professional to rule out Alzheimer’s.

If you find yourself having problems with everyday problem solving so it’s becoming more and more difficult to manage your life, whether it be paying the bills or cooking yourself a meal, it may be the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s.

Some more specific types of signs to look out for include:

  • Experiencing problems dealing with numbers on a daily basis, such as giving the correct money in a shop or counting how many pieces of fruit you put into your shopping basket
  • Difficulting following a familiar recipe you have been cooking for many years
  • Struggling with concentration and keeping track of, and managing, personal finances
  • Taking much longer to do daily tasks that you would have previously done without giving it a second thought
  • Difficulty in thinking how to organise common tasks such as making a medical appointment.

Mum had a beautiful antique piano that she saved hard for and which always took pride of place in the music room at home. Mum taught on that piano. It was the last thing I heard being played at night as a child before going to bed. We spent many a happy evening singing around it with Mum playing beautifully; and of course, my sister and I both learnt to play piano on it.  It was something very special in my life and something I wouldn’t have wanted to part with.

Just before Mum’s diagnosis, she and Dad had to move to a much smaller apartment and unfortunately the piano wouldn’t fit. Needless to say, I was heartbroken and investigated every way possible to keep it, or at the very least, to give it to someone who would love it equally. In the end, Mum said she would organise selling it, and since I had so many other things to do for the move, and Mum was always so reliable, I didn’t think twice about her doing it.

To cut a very long story short, I arrived on the removal day to find the piano still sitting in the lounge on the Friday of a long holiday weekend. Mum was completely oblivious that she had told me she would organise its sale. Many frantic calls later, I ended up, in cahoots with the real-estate agent, organising a very clandestine operation of removing the piano in the early hours of the Tuesday morning.

As a footnote, the piano is still in the family today, being very kindly stored in the back shed of a friend’s house outside Sydney, with the hope one day that I will have my own music room!