It turned out that our meeting with the nurse related to the approval of in-home care for Kate went very well. That is, it went well in terms of the way Kate handled it. It unfolded exactly the way I had hoped. Over the past few months, Kate has become more accepting of whatever I tell her we are going to do. As we were coming home from lunch at 2:15, I told her that we had a 2:30 meeting with a nurse that works with our insurance company and that it was in connection with her Alzheimer’s. I don’t recall that she said anything, but I do remember that she was accepting. She did not raise any questions or indicate displeasure.
When we got home, she brushed her teeth. Then she picked up her iPad and started working a jigsaw puzzle in our bedroom. When the nurse arrived, I went to the bedroom to tell her. She came out and greeted the nurse as she would any guest whom we might have invited for a visit. She was very cordial. She was not uneasy at all.
The nurse indicated that she was here to gather some information in connection with out long-term care insurance. As I had suspected, this did not cause Kate to raise an eyebrow. The interview last about an hour and ten minutes. She asked lots of questions from a document on an iPad so that when she was finished it was ready to be uploaded to her company who works for Transamerica.
Now we come to the part that was tough for me to take. The nurse began with the routine background information (address, phone numbers, Social Security number, age, height, weight, etc.) From there she went to characteristics of the home, how long we had lived there, the fact that it was a single story house, several questions about the bathroom, etc. There were also a battery of medical questions (hospitalizations, prescriptions, doctors, date of diagnosis, etc.)
Then the nurse gave her one of the standard tests of memory/dementia. These involved math (subtracting 3 from 20 and so forth to zero), remembering three words (table, chair, and floor), drawing a picture similar to one she showed Kate), day of the week and date, current President and previous President, etc.
Kate didn’t know how old she is, or how much she weighs, or her SS#. Her greatest frustration (and mine) came on the match questions. Several times she asked if she had to answer those. After recognizing that Kate was unable to do so, the nurse moved on. When the nurse gave her the three words to remember and emphasized that she would be asked again what the words were, Kate told her that would be easy and repeated the words. It was a very short time when the nurse asked her for the words. Kate couldn’t remember any of them.
Besides my anxiety about how Kate would react to the nurse, I was also concerned that Kate would do so well that the nurse might think Kate does not need someone to stay with her. Such was not the case. It made me very sad to see her struggle with these questions. It was also disturbing to see how upset Kate was getting. Kate really tried to do the right thing and was not nasty with the nurse. Near the end, Kate said, “You really have a lot of patience. I bet you sometimes get frustrated with people doing this.” Kate would never have let me go through all the questions the nurse asked.
As I was sitting there, I thought about the times I have read about a caregiver like me observing a similar test of her loved one and being so surprised that she was making so many mistakes. This was very different for me. I have observed enough of her behavior to know that she couldn’t handle these things. It is hard for me to imagine that many caregivers themselves are fooled by how far along their loved ones are when they take them for diagnosis.
The good news is that this hurdle is over. I do not expect any problem with the approval process, and Kate is not perturbed. It is as if the interview had never happened. The next hurdle will be meeting the sitter next Wednesday. I am a little more optimistic now but know that I could be fooled.