Figuring out how to cope with meals out has been a recurring theme in my relationship with J since she developed Alzheimer’s disease. We are in year seven since diagnosis and it has been a very long time since J has been able to hold her own in a conversation. It has been even longer since she expressed more than cursory interest in my thoughts or activities.  I don’t say this to engender pity. It’s a practical problem: how do I enjoy eating out when conversation is not an option?

Most important, J still likes going to restaurants, especially since the  food at her continuing care retirement community, while good, does not begin to cover the culinary universe we used to inhabit. There’s certainly no pizza or Chinese or haute cuisine. Nor is there wine, which is particularly galling to J. 

So we often go out to eat and I am left with how to cope with the cavernous time between ordering and the arrival of the food. Hence, dominoes. Dominoes is a simple game where the player only need recognize and match the number of dots on the end tiles. 

At a diner breakfast last week, I pulled out the lovely pink plastic dominoes that were a recent gift. The game occupied us both. Before we knew it, eggs and toast and home fries had appeared. J even won the game and was delighted.  I also was spared the uneasiness of sitting in a restaurant without conversation and waiting what usually feels like hours before the food comes. 

I have learned a couple of other techniques to cope with meals out together. I often select a casual restaurant or bar that broadcasts sports. I’m a huge baseball fan, and a game can distract me and provide us with conversation fodder. J has never been the fan I am, but she doesn’t mind. 

We also recently had a great experience sitting at an oyster bar. I was initially concerned that it would be too loud and busy for J. It turned out that she loved watching the shuckers. All the activity kept me engaged as well. Not to mention buck-a-shuck oysters and clams and $3 drafts. It was a revelation that while a big, noisy family dinners make J feel excluded, a happy, bustling bar makes her feel part of it all. 

Finally, a number of friends have suggested that picnicking on the porch of the CCRC is another option.  

So all it takes is a little creativity to turn discomfort into joy. Now if I can only remember that when the next challenge presents itself. 

4 thoughts on “Dominoes”

  1. Thanks for sharing these VERY helpful hints! So far Laura can still talk away,(normal for her) and I can simulate interest in the very familiar story she is telling for the umpteenth time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. We took a long road trip a couple of years ago. I put a free version of the Odyssey on my iPad and we listened to it the whole way. It worked well for J because of its lyrical language and because she already was familiar with it. She also was quite content to watch the changing landscape through the window.


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