Yesterday Kate misplaced the money I had put out for our housekeeper. I have no idea where it is. I’m sure it will turn up sometime.
She also put dirty dishes in dishwasher with clean ones after my telling her they were clean. This incident could really happen to anyone, but I am more prone to link it to AD since her diagnosis.
The big thing in our lives right now is Dad’s 98th birthday party which we are having at our house this Saturday, the 29th. In connection with our preparations, I have had several observations related to Kate. First, she has really wanted to have the party and to work hard to be ready. At the same time these things introduce frustrations that would have been different in earlier times. For example, she decided to do 2 collages of photos to display in a frame during the party. One is of Dad with his family; the other with friends.
This seems straightforward enough and falls within the kinds of things that she likes to do. However, we have had to take pictures from my computer to upload to hers which introduces some frustration. She can’t remember where she loaded pictures. As she was working on the collages last night, she exclaimed how confused she was. I told her not to be too hard on herself and that she knows this is something she can’t control. Even as I said this, I recognized that this is a simple thing to say but difficult to do.
Last night she was trying to dial the phone number of one of her PEO sisters and kept misdialing. She ended up giving me the phone to dial.
She is also planning to host a PEO dinner on December 10. Fortunately all she will have to prepare is the chocolate mousse, but there will be lots of things to do to have the house ready for this group.
She has also indicated a willingness to host our music club for its February meeting. I love the fact that she wants to do these things, but it concerns me that it introduces too much frustration in her life.
Tuesday was a bad day. I mean in the sense that Kate felt depressed about her forgetfulness. To start the day, I told her to watch the dishes as she took them out of the cabinets because I noted that when I emptied the dishwasher, there was at least one dirty glass. She felt bad knowing that she had put something dirty in with the clean dishes. I sensed immediately that she was hurt and tried not to make a big deal of it.
Shortly thereafter we took her car to Firestone to get a new tire because one of hers had gone out the day before. The man at Firestone noted that the wheel rims around the tire had been scraped and said we could blame that on me. Of course, she knew he was really talking about her. After leaving Firestone, I told her that we couldn’t have lunch together because I was planning to go see Dad at noon instead of late afternoon as I usually do. I was doing this because we were planning to go to a 5:30 movie at the Olympia. I could see that she was depressed; so before leaving for the office, I told her I had changed my mind and that we could have lunch together and suggested Applebee’s.
The final blow came before we went to the movie. She came home with her laptop that had been repaired by the computer store and told me that she dropped it. She said, “I cause most of my own problems.”
We went to the movie, a documentary about Bill Cunningham a longtime photographer with the NY Times. She and I enjoyed it and then went to a light dinner at Mojito’s. That made the day end on a good note.
On another front, Dad was more alert on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, especially yesterday. The invitations to his 98th birthday party were being delivered to many folks yesterday, and I took his invitation to him. He was like a child – very pleased and showed it to a few people at dinner.
Life has been a little hectic lately; so I sometimes find it hard to jot a few notes at the time I want to. Here are a couple of things from the past few days.
Last Wednesday Kate had a routine appointment with Dr. Reasoner. I had asked her if she wanted me to go with her. She said she was fine. What she didn’t consider was getting lost. I told her how to get there, and also told her to use her GPS. We had eaten lunch across the street from my office, and I walked back to the office while she went to the doctor. A short time later she called saying she was lost. I asked where she was, and she was able to tell me she was “by” the University of Tennessee Medical Center; so I knew she was close. However, as I pressed, she couldn’t tell me more precisely where she was. I got out my iPhone and opened the GPS. Between her telling me about street signs and my looking at the map, I saw where she was and guided her step by step to the building.
The next day she was going to Dad’s condo to dry clothes since our clothes dryer is not working. Although she has been there many times, she got lost and had to use the GPS to get there. She was headed there going north and went past the turn and found herself a few blocks away where she turned right. It was a few blocks later that she realized she was lost and needed to use the GPS.
On Saturday when she had forgotten or lost something, she said, “”At least now that I know that I have Alzheimer’s, I have an excuse.” She is having many experiences where she can’t recall where she has put things, where she is supposed to go, what time she is going someplace, or that she is going someplace at all. I am trying to remind her of some things. I do best at reminding about social engagements. I am not doing well in making sure she remembers to take her purse with her from a restaurant, etc.
Yesterday I met with the communications committee of the United Way. I sat next to a former client and learned that his wife has dementia. I asked how long they had known. He said a couple of years. Then he said it had been less than that. I asked if she was aware. He said that the doctor had told her when he gave her the the MRI diagnosis but that she does not seem to know or pay much attention now. He indicated she is happy and that they are getting along all right. The conversation, however, was sobering for me in that it added fuel to my existing fears that in 1-2 years we’ll be further along on this journey than we had hoped.
One final thought. A few minutes ago Kate and I were making plans for the day when she said, “Just tell me what to do.” This is something she says frequently, and I am trying to learn not to throw too much at her. My interpretation is that she is facing so much frustration over losing things and not remembering things that it is too frustrating for her to attempt to rationally work out a plan for almost anything.
After lunch this past Saturday, Kate went to Lavender, her favorite dress shop. I stayed at home. As I was on the way to see Dad, I got a call from her. She asked where I was and sounded disappointed when I said I was on I-77 almost to Dad’s nursing facility. I asked what she needed, and she said she couldn’t find her car. I asked her a number of questions trying to help her remember but took an exit and went to meet her at my office. When I was a couple of blocks from Lavender’s, I saw her car in the parking lot of a restaurant. When I picked her up, I told her I had good news that I had found the car. It was only then that she recalled that she had gone to a shop down the street looking at clothing to take on our trip to Africa. She was clearly discouraged by this lapse.
Although I started this document with Kate in mind, I am going to make an observation regarding Dad as well. In many respects, his condition plays a significant role in my relationship with Kate and how she feels about things. For quite a while I have gotten phone calls from Dad in the middle of the night. I am not alone. He sometimes calls my brother as well as several of his friends. He told me that he had called one of his buddies just after midnight last week.
At any rate, Dad called me at 2:33 yesterday morning. He told me that he was in West Palm Beach at the Shrine Club. I suggested that perhaps he had had a dream, but he couldn’t seem to hear well which is pretty normal. He placed 3 calls to me around 5:25. Each time he left a voicemail message saying that I didn’t need to come get him that he was at his nursing home.
On at least 2 occasions, he has called to let me know that he thought this was the end, that he was completely blind, and that he had had a wonderful life and wanted to thank me. Each time I have tried to reassure him and told him I was going to plan on seeing him later in the day. When I finally see him after these calls, he always remembers making them and even seems to take some pleasure in them.
For Kate, I am sure this causes some pain as well as amusement. I know she must be thinking of what she is going to be like as her AD progresses.