You Know I Don’t Work Puzzles

Last week or so I wrote this post and submitted it to the Alzheimer’s Reading Room – it posted there today!  www.alzheimer’

“You know I don’t work puzzles — why would you order me puzzles?”…

By Judy Dearing

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered two puzzles from Springbok puzzles that are specifically designed for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. I had them shipped directly to Chrissy as she loves opening packages.  As expected, she tore into the package and just stared at the two boxes.  Once I told her what they were, she looked at me with an expression I remembered from my teenage years.  “You know I don’t work puzzles — why would you order me puzzles?”

I immediately told her she didn’t have to work them if she didn’t want and placed both boxes under the living room table, one with an open shelf.  During the evening she would look at the boxes and then at me; “You know I don’t work puzzles” — that was the focus of our evening. Each time I would say, no problem, that’s okay, or you don’t have to work the puzzle.

Days later, I set one box out and commented on the colors of the pretty flowers; then, she started talking about the flowers she grows each spring and summer.
I asked her if she wanted to try and work the puzzle with me; she replied, “You know I don’t work puzzles.”  Interesting to me, she stated the same phrase for over a week. Pretty much my response was also the same. A couple days later I left the box out in view, on a table in front of her TV.

Then one morning, while she was eating her cereal, I brought the puzzle out and began laying the pieces on the kitchen table. Neither of us said a word!  I propped up the front of the box hoping she would connect the picture to puzzle pieces. I should have known that would not happen. Still, with no conversation she set her cereal aside and began spreading out the pieces! Not wanting her to become discouraged, I laid out the four corners.  Once we started matching colors, she began connecting the pieces! Even so, she kept trying to slide the pieces in and could not manage lifting up the puzzle piece; again, not wanting her to be discouraged, I helped with interlocking them together.  Once completed I could tell she was proud of herself, as was I!  I made a big to-do – saying so, grinning, and taking her picture. I started to take the puzzle apart and surprisingly, she wanted it left out! It stayed on the kitchen table for much of the day.

That evening I ask if she wanted to work the puzzle again and of course she answered, “You know I don’t work puzzles.”  I know the above approach worked once and I will certainly try again!

Judy Dearing writes about Alzheimer’s, her mother Chrissy, and life as an Alzheimer’s caregiver at Chrissy’s Moments.


4 responses to this post.

  1. I had no idea they made puzzles for Alzheimer’s patients! Very cool.


    • Jennifer – thank you for stopping by Chrissy’s blog. The Alzheimer’s puzzles are fairly new. They are large pieces in bright colors and it is my understanding they are to envoke pleasant memories. I have purchased two for my mother. The one she worked was flowers and to my surprise she did talk about the flowers she grew in spring and summer. You can check them out at


  2. Posted by Anne Tebo on December 3, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    My husband suffers from Alzheimer’s Dementia. I’m going to check out the puzzles for him. He always says he doesn’t do puzzles, but he used to enjoy putting them together with me. Our only challenge will be keeping the cat off the table!


    • Thanks for stopping by Anne. I layed out another one recently and my mother was much more receptive. I hope the puzzle works for your husband. Your cat may want to help!


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