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To problem solve, one must be able to integrate the other cognitive processes that are outlined in this book. He must comprehend the basic factors to be considered, be able to recall these factors, organize them for analysis, and be flexible enough to make the appropriate choice from a number of alternatives.

Problem-solving difficulties vary greatly along the recovery process. While your family member was an inpatient, his problem-solving skills addressed the functional daily activities of dressing, bathing, walking, and expressing himself. As he recovers, his problem-solving skills will need to encompass work, home, and family issues.

People vary greatly in the level of problem solving needed for their work setting. Some occupations require daily verbal problem solving. Others require repetitive job tasks that do not need continual problem solving, unless there is a mechanical failure.

The goal of a rehabilitation program is to assist your family member in attaining a level of problem solving that allows him to succeed both at home and at work.


The following are examples of problem-solving difficulties you may observe:

I. Your family member may become extremely frustrated when he is not able to install a new garage-door opener. After all, it is a simple project, and he added one to his last garage.

2. He may lose patience with himself because he cannot figure out how to use his new computer program. He continues to get an error message. He is certain the program has a bug.

3. Your family member was once a card shark. He could easily keep track in his head of the cards played. It was difficult to beat him at any game. Now, however, he cannot keep track of the cards and makes poor decisions or bad plays. It is very difficult to get him to even play.

4. He may have problems at work because he appears somewhat stubborn. Reports indicate that he does not listen to all the information before he makes a decision.

Management Techniques

1. Difficulties with problem solving can stem from comprehension problems. Give your family member some time before you ask him to assemble household items. If he is not able to follow the directions explicitly, he may not be able to problem solve for an alternative.

2. This may not be the time to add new programs to the computer. This is particularly true if the program is not user-friendly.

3. Remember, activities that appear to be simple, often are not. Card playing is one of these activities. Encourage your family member to continue to play cards. It is a great exercise for improvement of problem-solving skills. However, you may want to ease the competitive nature of your games.

4. Exhibiting problem-solving difficulties at work can cause big problems for your family member. He may end up in a confrontation with co-workers. Encourage him to not make snap decisions, but to listen to all the alternatives.