A New Observation

For a long time I have made a point of saying that the person with Alzheimer’s does in fact know they have the disease, and it frustrates them. In the past 2-3 months I have come to another observation. The Alzheimer’s patient is like all of us in that he or she does not recognize the basis of all behaviors. In Kate’s case, she is most frustrated by the difficulty she has performing tasks like working with the computer or remembering where she puts things. On the other hand, I don’t believe she has any recognition of the lack of care of thought with which she does things. I think it was those things that were the first signs something was wrong, not a problem with memory. Just yesterday she had an experience that may illustrate this lack of recognition.

She has lost several pair of clippers that she used to trim her shrubs. I know I have bought at least 3 or 4 since spring not including 2 I bought this past week. Day before yesterday she told me she had lost one of the 2 new ones. Yesterday she asked me to walk around the yard and help her look for them which I did. Neither of us found them. When she came inside, she said something like, “I just don’t know how I do this?” The way she said it, I was unsure whether this was simply an expression of frustration or if she really doesn’t know the cause of her behavior. I am well aware that she doesn’t recognize how far along she is, but I have assumed that she grasps the fact that her Alzheimer’s is what causes all the problems like this one. I believe I was wrong about that.

On an unrelated note, she came inside for some water about 45 minutes ago. When she saw me, she said, “I didn’t know you were here.” That made me stop and think about it. This is a Saturday morning, and I have been inside working on my SS lesson for tomorrow. She doesn’t usually know what day it is; so she was thinking it is just like every day. She works in the yard while I am at the office (though nowadays that normally occurs on MWF, not the other 4 days of the week). She was probably thinking I was coming home from the office. Then walked in the house only to see that I was here. Before going back outside, she asked me how long I had been at home. That gave me a jolt because I assumed she had grasped that I had been home all along. I thought a moment and said, “”Well, since I came home from getting my haircut yesterday afternoon.” She looked at me and said, “”That wasn’t funny.” I apologized, and she said, “”Well, it was a little funny.” I could not help wondering if she did not think it funny because I was making light of the fact that she can’t help getting mixed up on such things.

Two days ago, she asked me where the church directory was. I told her the last time I had seen it she had taken it out of the drawer in the kitchen where we kept it. She said, “”That’s scary.” This was said matter-of-factly. She wasn’t making a big deal of it but it seems to me interpreting the situation as one in which her Alzheimer’s could mean the directory could be anyplace. Indeed, I have looked around the house without success. It really could be anyplace.