Hide & Seek: Alzheimer’s Style

Jennifer McDougall
4 min readJun 6, 2020


Tween years in a small town meant that summer time and dusk were as connected to Hide and Seek as Corey Hart was to sunglasses and hair gel. The sun lowering itself towards the other half of the globe was the gathering time signal for a dozen or so neighbourhood kids. With unfenced lots backing on to one another, cloaked sites seemed endless: prickly bushes, the mini orchard of our Moses-aged near-deaf neighbour, cat poo-infested spaces between joists under several decks, and even a leaning, derelict shed entirely decorated on the inside with spider webs — all unrestricted. Yes, we were unsupervised and it was GLORIOUS! Oh sure there was that one occasion when overzealous slingshotters and their choice of ragged stones caused permanent eye damage but otherwise we were responsible tweens having an amazing time.

My near daily “playing” of Hide and Seek no longer holds the same appeal. Adult Hide and Seek (sounds so fun and so spankingly dirty but is, indeed, neither of those) involves a husband with Early Onset Alzheimer’s and the objects he either misplaces or re-homes.

This morning, after his Summer Shear, I suggested to my spouse, now-resembling-a-hairless-mole, that a hat might be a good choice on a 25 degree cloudless day. He reached into his bucket meant for hats and now a collect-all for coins, sunglasses, broken ear buds, glow-in-the-dark ‘spinners’ we brought back for the kids from our trip to China a few years ago, a tape measure that he can’t figure out how to use, broken golf pencils when he hasn’t swung a club in at least three years…but, alas, no hat. He peered into the backpack he takes back and forth to work. Oh sure he found a bag with week old lunch containers resembling Sir Alexander Fleming’s petri dishes and a sweatshirt he’d deduced must have been stolen by a coworker…but no hat. The search expanded.

Thankfully our house is small. Our bedroom: yanking out every piece of clothing he found his unwashed work pants still drizzled in webs of glue…but no hat. Misjudging the distance of his bedside box, it became airborne and all of its contents missiled under the bed and shelf. There was about $20 in coins, a golf glove, an IKEA allen wrench, and several papers with phone numbers, written in his own handwriting, belonging to nameless, unknown folks…but no hat. The bathroom. The kitchen slash living room. The mudroom. He even ventured into the basement laundry room, a place he hasn’t entered since, when several months prior, he had, for whatever reason his hippocampus deemed necessary, taken the filter out of the furnace (and not replaced it) and dialed the water heater up to scalding.

Alas…no hat. I can only assume that on Friday, after we all saw him saunter out of the house with it bouncing on his head, he left it at his workplace.

This game of Hide and Seek, though it often uncovers other missing “treasures”, is not in any way fun. It does not include those come-find-me wolf howls and bellowed belly laughs that penetrated those summer evenings so long ago…

Photo by Flowingfaith.com

Day after day after day. Often it’s his eyeglasses, removed and left in ever-more strange locales. Between the shower curtains, under the cat’s windowsill blanket in our son’s room. Once, because I do not wash our sheets as regularly as a hotel, it took us over a week to find them — when next we laundered bedding we uncovered them between our mattress and the bedspring.

His winter boots were returned six weeks after a visit to his sister’s home. Don’t even ask about house keys (especially when he can’t seem to figure out the turning motion involved in making them work)…

Sometimes Hide and Seek in our household becomes not necessarily searching for something that has been lost but rather simply finding…something my husband has decided to re-home. Guinea pig food in roller blade boots, unwashed dishes still clinging to chunks of a meal tucked in the cupboard between clean plates, half a dozen granola bars inside a lidded bathroom step stool, apple peeler in the spoon section.

Gone are the days of hoots and hollers as flashlights skidded past your hiding spot and voila, blinded you for long enough that “It” could beat you to whatever the safe zone was that night. Admittedly there are a few hoots and hollers when hours of search result in a find…when the Seek is no longer in Hide…and at least our searches are usually confined to within our house and rarely include prickly bushes, near-deaf neighbours, cat poo-infested spaces or derelict sheds pimped out with spider webs…



Jennifer McDougall

Attempting Serious and Satire... Sometimes successful. Editor, Doctor Funny.