It can be hard to figure out what will keep someone with Alzheimer's occupied - and one that will keep them happy... The activity has to be something the person is interested in, and it's better if it has some long-time personal connection. It was difficult to find such things for dad to do - about the only two things he was interested in were gardening and woodworking, and gardening was out in the winter - so woodworking was called upon as an activity we could both do while in the shop. I tried having him help make saws, but the tasks required were all beyond his capabilities in his diminished state. I also tried to get him to make wooden mallets and other basic tools for me, but he lost interest quickly.
One successful activity we had with him was having him make reproductions of a lap desk my great grandfather owned. It's an interesting piece, one I thought would be fun to examine for this blog. It's an interesting study - showing some signs of both elegant and of crude construction techniques. It lends itself well to study of early furniture and casework, as not all that was done as high-end furniture. Most stuff that survives today wasn't the run of the mill stuff, anymore than you would expect today's run-of-the-mill furniture to be around in 150 years. What does survive is often the high end stuff that is heirloom quality, which I think often distorts people's views of craftsmanship during these earlier periods. To that, I offer this piece, which has more sentimental value than anything, as one example of construction techniques used in early work:
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