The Humble Toaster

mxyplxDecember 1, 2013

Well I dunno if this will be of any interest to most but may be a clue to those new to caring for the demented. Vigilance!!!!

Our toaster is 30 or 10 years old and when you push the handle down there is a 2 sided cage comes together over the bread slice. The problem is that another slice can then be inserted between the cage and the elements - i.e.- right on the elements.

With smoke issuing from the toaster I snapt up the handle, removed the toast and smoke continued. Well there was a 3rd piece of bread in there next to the element. That was at bkfst.

At noon I was observing and the handle got pushed down before any bread was inserted and bread was then inserted between the cage and element. I sure jumpt on that. So now our toaster is in the garage and I make her toast.

Next I goed to Kmart and eyeballed a bunch of new toasters and they also had the cage arrangement but the cage top was spread to the side in such a manner that bread slices could not be inserted between the cage and element. So this problem had been addressed and I spose a long time ago. But toasters last a long time and If you have a toaster "of a certain age" the cage might be the original style - that is, dangerous. Potential house fire!

I'd get a new toaster so she could make her own toast but the thing is they have fixed it so a normal person can't screw up. The demented person is, however, a totally different animal. There is no way to figure or plan around how the demented mind will psyche things out.

I think the toasters of my youth had a set of vertical wires so the above could not happen. Now the cage centers the bread perfectly so the toast is perfect both sides. We must have perfect toast. I recall a neighbor had an even older toaster with hinged sides that opened separately. Then you had to turn the slice around to toast the 2nd side. It was not automatic. The toast was not perfect. It must have been the same toaster Ben Franklin whipped up after he invented electricity.

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I had my own toaster experience with my mom when she was in an assisted living facility. At the time, there was no prohibition against residents having small cooking appliances.

One day I came to check up on my mom because she was feeling ill. I told her I'd make her some toast for lunch. Grabbed a piece of bread from her fridge and stuck it in the toaster. A few seconds later, there was a horrible smell of burning oil/butter coming from the toaster. I immediately pulled the plug and tried to figure out what was happening.

I discovered that the toaster innards and crumb catcher were coated with a heavy layer of oil, crumbs, and shredded cheese. I could not figure out how that happened. I asked my mother, but she couldn't help me. I eventually took a look in her freezer and discovered an opened package of Texas Toast - the thick slices of pre-buttered, cheese sprinkled, and seasoned toast. She had been squishing those slices into the toaster and never noticed the burning smell.

I ended up taking the toaster home and never replaced it. My mother was simply not able to use it correctly or even tell when there was a problem. Mxyplx , you are so right: "There is no way to figure or plan around how the demented mind will psyche things out."

    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 10:45PM
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The grandmother gets up in the night and rummages around her house. Mostly investigating things, normal household this-and-that but she doesn't quite recognize what are they, what's the function. Or she gets in the kitchen pantry, knows instinctively food is there but she doesn't know how to open cans and packages, or how to prepare it if she does get it open.

She finds cans of soft drinks in the refrigerator, can't handle opening the tab, ends up breaking it off ... then may attack it with an ice pick or kitchen knife or fork, whatever she can find.

Couple days ago she pulled the rotating pour/sprinkle top off a canister of salt substitute that sits by the stove, sprinkled some in the sink (probably testing what is it) ... then put it in the refrigerator.

She was rummaging in the bathroom recently, had some toiletries scattered around. I found a container of petroleum jelly open, with an old tube of lip balm in it, and a business card.

I took the burner knobs off the stove a year ago so she can't turn it on. Same with the gas space heater, took the knob off. And the window air conditioner, and covered the control panel area with a piece of heavy white paper so it presents as completely blank.

Washer & dryer are shut off at the breakers and water faucets, the "sitter" or myself can turn them on if needed.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 1:19PM
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Dadoes, do you think she thought the salt substitute was something like Ajax cleanser?

You're so smart about the stove & heater knobs. I would have never thought of the white paper cover for an instrument panel. Great idea, though. We planned exactly the same thing with the washer & dryer when we were thinking of building my mom a guest house on our property. However, by the time we got plans made and started the permit process, her condition had deteriorated to the point where we knew she wasn't safe by herself even if she lived right next to us. She'd have to have 24 hour oversight.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 9:45PM
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Reason I had to deal with the air conditioner is that she'd get a chill and turn it off in heat of the summer. I'd find her sitting in the living room ... in long sleeves and sweat pants, she *always* wears long sleeves, thinks her arms are ugly ... and the room temp of 90ðF.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 6:11AM
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2-3 weeks ago I taped a sticky note over the microwave numbers. It has dots where the numbers are so I can work it. I made a ring around the 30 second button.

At first it seemed to eliminate the 23 minute inputs but 30 secs is too short for some things; 60 too long. I have been doing all the meal prep since so my wife never uses it now (if I can get there in time - keeps me alert). She seems to be accepting it but it is in transition. How sad.

There is a point at which you must step in but it's a balance to time that and still maintain a relationship. Every task taken over diminishes capability which just adds to the downward spiral. But, it's just like taking your dog to the vet one last time - you just have to harden your heart and do it.

What a sad ending to 42.50 years (as of last Monday). I can hardly see to type for some damn reason.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 11:59AM
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CA Kate

I know what you mean, mxyplx, the less husband does the less he is able to do. The last time we had to put him in his wheelchair he was like a rag doll. I'm sure we will be needing to use the HoyerLift one day soon to move him.
Sooooo sad to have to watch the gradual decline of someone you love; for us it's 47.5 years.

BTW: whatever you have going on with your eyes is contagious. ;-/

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 3:00PM
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