A Visit from Family

Today is Dad’s brother’s birthday. He and his wife, Elizabeth, and my brother, Scott, arrived here on Wednesday for a visit with Dad. All of them stayed at our house. They were all great guests, but it is more stressful for Kate to make plans and execute them. This is a pattern that has been developing over the past few years. Since we received her diagnosis, we have been working more deliberately to minimize stress. We did that this weekend by taking a meal from an Italian restaurant near Dad’s nursing facility on Wednesday night, bringing in meals on Thursday night and Saturday noon (when we celebrated Tom’s 80th birthday), and eating out Friday and Saturday nights.

In addition, I took care of breakfast each morning by bringing in bagels and muffins. I also got a mixture of fruit for Elizabeth on two mornings. I let Kate  sleep as long as she wanted. That meant that she didn’t get up on Thursday or Friday morning until after our guests had left for Dad’s.

The weekend went well. We took note of some things that we wouldn’t have thought of before. For example, Wednesday night Tom told us about someone they had known who had AD and that she had wandered away from home and how frightened her family was. He mentioned that it might be good if AD patients had a chip like the one they use in dogs implanted in them so that they would be easily found. When we went to bed, Kate wanted to be held and comforted and mentioned something about Tom’s remark. I find myself holding back from saying things like this. Some of those are in reference to my mother’s dementia. Others are related to my father or someone else, In fact, Kate asked me recently how long Jane, one of her friends has had AD. When I told her about 12 years, she was bothered. I thought that would encourage her, but it was discouraging. I assume because Jane’s condition has been obvious for a few years (2-3?). I am sure it may have hit Kate in two ways. (1) It may only be a few years until her condition is obvious to others, and (2) she may live a long time in the latter condition, something she dreads.

In addition to the visit with family, we met with Kate’s psychologist on Wednesday afternoon to receive her evaluation. Although she had areas of strength, primarily verbal, she is functioning below normal in many areas for someone of her age and education. Dr. Taylor indicated evidence of mild dementia. Kate asked her if she had received the PET scan results, and she had not. We told her about the diagnosis. When we left, Kate  said, “I could just cry.” This typifies most of her response to the diagnosis. She has not had any significant emotional outbursts. She is experiencing mostly a sadness and worry regarding the future. I am sure she must be thinking about time with grandchildren and missing out on important family events in the future.

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