Dropping Her Guard

Over the weekend, Kate and I went to see the movie, Jane, about the life of Jane Goodall. We were both amazed at the way the chimps in the wild became comfortable with Goodall after they were in close proximity for a good while. Some of this was fostered by Goodall herself by providing a supply of bananas that required the chimps to come closer and closer. We observed something similar on a PBS special on Nature recently. A photographer followed a cheetah and her cubs for a period of about two years. The mother cheetah and her cubs became so accustomed to the photographer that he was ultimately able to pet her and put a collar with a GPS device around her neck.

With these things in mind, I am noting that Kate is also showing more signs of dropping her guard with me. I feel sure something similar will occur with others. In Kate’s case compared to the wild animals mentioned above, she is influenced not only by having been with me a long time. I believe this change is also a function of the disease. It is much like an innocent child who doesn’t realize that what she says or does will be interpreted differently from the way she had wanted or intended. Let me give you an example of the kinds of things I am thinking about.

As we left the restaurant after lunch today, Kate heard a news item about a politician getting caught in lie. She didn’t understand and asked me to explain, a very common occurrence. That itself is a small example. In this case, after I gave her an explanation, she said, “You’re gonna have to explain this to me later.” Her words and they way they were expressed clearly showed that she simply didn’t understand, and it was not something that was very difficult. It would not surprise me if she had done the same thing if she had been with someone else.

Another example occurred after we were home. She changed her top to work in the yard. After buttoning her shirt, I heard her laugh. When I looked at her I could see that the right and left sides of the shirt did not meet as they should. I said, “You got a button out of place.” She said, “Two buttons.” She had been able to laugh at herself for doing this. Unlike the frustration she expressed in earlier stages, she was now able to look t what she had done with a touch of amusement.

She was struggling a little to get her shirt buttoned correctly; so I helped. She accepted my help without any problem. It took me a moment to get the two sides of the shirt as they should be. I said, “This can be tricky.” She said, “It really can be.” This exchange was done very naturally without feeling that this was a symptom of her AD. Over the past year I have more of this kind of behavior. It makes me think of what many people say about someone with dementia. “At least, she doesn’t know.” I can see we are moving in that direction. I also think her receptivity to the sitters, especially letting them take her to Panera, is another indication of this change.

Apart from these things, I see more and more little things that I have seen in the past. The difference is that now so many things are happening even in a single day. Several things come to mind. The weather has cooled in the past week, and I have given her an old jacket of my dad’s to use when she is working outside. It is a good warm jacket with one problem. It has a warm liner that we can take out. The problem is that each time she takes it off, the lining in the sleeves comes out. This leads to much confusion when she puts it on again.

She likes to use clippers when she is working with her shrubs, but he keeps losing them. Long again, I might buy fewer than six or eight pair over a six-month period. A few days ago, I bought her three new pair. She has already lost two of them, one the first time out, the other the second time. Earlier today, I looked around the shrubbery but didn’t find either one. I did, however, find a pair of sunglasses I bought about six weeks ago. They had been missing for at least a month.

After getting her shirt buttoned, she wanted get something to drink. She went to the refrigerator and poured herself a small glass of apple juice. Then she went outside without drinking it. She also walked by the jacket that I had just gotten out for her.

Fortunately, none of these things represents a serious problem. In the scheme of things they are very small. At this point, I have been able to adapt well enough that they don’t bother me. I am just glad that she seems happy and hope this continues for a long time.

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