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“Guwisti and mom” Geocaching Through the Fog of Alzheimer’s

momandI52finds
A record day for Carol and Kristie (Guwisti and mom) with 52 finds

Crumpled geocaching log sheets record simple, even fragile moments. Laughter, singing to classic country music and victorious thumbs-ups roll into three words for a daughter and her best geocaching partner. They sign logbooks with, “Guwisti and mom”.  If you’ve geocached around Arkansas in the United States, you’ve probably read those three words on geocache log sheets for years.

But Kristie Boucheer Moore says all those geocaches are becoming flickers of half-remembered moments from her mom. “Her Alzheimer’s began a couple of years ago and has slowly progressed… She has problems remembering recent events and tends to repeat herself. She’ll ask me a question and say, ‘I’ve probably already asked you that, huh?’ And then she laughs. I don’t mind. She has a childlike exuberance which is infectious.”

Kristie began geocaching in 2010. The librarian happened upon something called, “geocaching” in an article. Soon she and her husband found their first geocache. She said they’ve been hooked on the outdoor adventure ever since.

Carol and Kristie
Carol and Kristie

After her father’s death Kristie searched for ways to spend time with her mom. “My husband and I told her about our new hobby and she thought it sounded silly. We took her to find an ammo can and she found a plastic grasshopper inside as SWAG and has loved it ever since! This was when she was in the very early stages and quite independent. She’d go caching with us every once in awhile, but not as much as she does now.”

The more Alzheimer’s becomes part of their lives, the more they find themselves searching for geocaches, “You really have no idea how much my mom means to me or how much we love geocaching together!! I am so happy my mom and I have found ‘our thing’ to do together.”

“Guwisti and mom” is now appearing on geocaching log sheets at a record pace. They recently broke their record and found 52 geocaches in one day.

“It’s definitely me and her time, my husband will usually go have ‘guy time’ and mom and I go caching. We usually go on weekends, in fact when I call her on Saturday morning she always asks, ‘any new caches?!’ She thinks all caches are a First to Find opportunity.”

Carol has also discovered she’s part of a larger community where she’s welcome to just be herself. Kristie says, “She loves all types of caches and she goes to events with us as well, she might not talk much anymore but she loves being around everyone and hearing their stories.”

The quiet stops when Kristie and Carol start driving to their next geocache, “Caching has given us a way to connect in the outdoors. My mom has never met a stranger, all her neighbors love her and help look after her. Since developing Alzheimer’s she’s quieter in group situations. But she sure talks a bunch while we’re out caching. I’ve heard more about her childhood than I ever have. She loves to sing and we listen to old classic country and sing while we cache.”

It’s the activity of geocaching that Kristie believes builds something stronger than memories. They’re focusing on the moment being lived, not the moments that have been lost, “It’s a great opportunity to spend quality time with a parent who honestly might not even remember your name in another year or so. We’re creating memories out there and while she might not remember exactly what happened, I think she will remember the happy feelings and general good times. I will always treasure the memories made while out caching with my mom. It is also, I suppose, a stress free time for both us. She’s not worried about remembering something she has forgotten and I can step out of the role of caregiver for a few hours. Geocaching has us both looking for something that neither one of us knows where it is. It lets us live in the moment.”

Carol and Kristie
Carol and Kristie