Three Manuals

December 2, 2010

Last week I posted about trying to ensure that Lauren’s preferences and routines will be protected when she moves into her own home and I am not there to oversee them on a daily basis. I talked about the manuals I am developing and promised to tell you more this week. Three of the manuals will cover her food, her clothing, and her laundry.


Lauren does not chew, so pretty much all of her food needs additional attention as in pureeing, mashing, etc. In order to cut down on preparation time, I prepare some of her meals ahead of time and freeze them. Not all foods or dishes can be processed to the necessary texture or consistency and still remain palatable. So, I prepare the things that I know will work, like stews, chicken and gravy, and baked ziti (made with pastina), and freeze them in individual portions. If I’m preparing something for dinner for my husband and I, that Lauren will also be eating, I make a bit extra and freeze a few meals as well. We also cook an entire bag of frozen vegetables, puree them, and freeze them in ice cube trays. That way there is always a variety of vegetables ready to just pop in the microwave for her dinner.

Lauren is rather particular about how she likes her eggs scrambled, how her sandwich is made, and can be picky about textures. You can imagine that if you have little control over what and when you eat and how it is prepared, the only power you have over that part of your life is to exhibit some type of behavior to communicate your preferences. So, Lauren has trained me in how, when, and what she will eat. Now, I need to communicate that information to the people who will care for her, so that they don’t experience difficulty in making sure that Lauren is properly fed, and she isn’t upset or frustrated with the meals being prepared for her.

Lauren’s Recipe Book – Divided into three sections – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner – this binder contains recipes and hints for preparing Lauren’s food just the way she likes. Whether it’s making the spreads for her sandwiches, pureeing her prunes to the right consistency, or mixing a little brown sugar into her squash, all of the information you need to cook for Lauren is in this book. I’m thinking about laminating the pages so that they don’t get dirty.


All throughout her life, Lauren has been complimented on her appearance. I’ve always been a stickler about how she is dressed and groomed. She should be able to continue to maintain her appearance even if I'm not there to pick out her clothes. We all have our own ideas about what goes with what, what is acceptable to wear where, and what is appropriate for the weather that day. This manual will help Lauren's caregivers by establishing some parameters for Lauren’s attire that will not only protect her personal style but protect her health and comfort as well. I can’t imagine being too hot or uncomfortably cold and not being able to remove or add clothing myself. This binder will help caregivers easily get her dressed and put together for her activities and ensure that she presents herself in public in the same manner she always has.

Lauren’s Wardrobe – Bowing to New Jersey’s inconsistent and always changing weather, I’ve arranged this book by temperature instead of my original plan to arrange it by season. Since it can hit -15 or 60 degrees in January and 110 or 47 in August – I think this is the best approach. I’ve been taking pictures of outfits and listing the pieces included in the outfit. Those pictures will become the pages in the book. Caregivers can then just flip through the pages, pick an outfit, assemble the pieces, and dress Lauren.


Have you noticed lately how much the fabrics that our clothes are made of have changed? I find that I can’t get through a load of laundry these days without stopping to read labels. Just to complicate matters, Lauren frequently receives gifts of clothing from friends in Europe where they use symbols, not words, on their care labels. I’m especially careful with Lauren’s pants and jeans. Although she’s only five foot three, she has really long legs. If I put her pants in the dryer and they shrink at all – they’ll be too short. Since she’s sitting all of the time, short pants are particularly not attractive. So, I don’t put her pants in the dryer. But, I hate wrinkles – so I usually pop them in the dryer for a quick tumble in the warm air to get rid of the wrinkles and then hang them on a rack. Everybody has their own way of doing things, this binder will make the care of Lauren’s clothes consistent across caregivers and also make the chore easier for them.

Lauren’s Laundry – Pictures of any of Lauren’s clothing that needs special care are in this binder. Anyone involved in doing her laundry can familiarize themselves with the garments that need special care –hand wash, dry flat, turn inside out, etc. They can then refer back to the binder which is divided into sections – tops, bottoms, other – as needed.

This all may sound like a lot of work but I think it will be extremely helpful in the long run.  I have six months to put the binders together.  A few minutes here, a few there, and they will be complete.  The recipe book is pretty much complete and, even though Lauren is still at home, her caregivers are starting to find it helpful already.  If I was Martha Stewart, I'd say - It's a good thing! 

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