Those who know me well understand that I don’t like change. I do, however, grasp that change occurs whether we like it or not, and the question is how to successfully adapt to it. Living with Alzheimer’s demands a lot of change. When I first noticed that Kate was sleeping late in the morning, I tried to determine why. What I really wanted was to be able to control it so that it didn’t impact our whole morning. I didn’t want a whole morning to myself.
That led me to do several things. The first was to consult her doctor. He suggested eliminating Trazadone from her daily meds. That resulted in her sleeping less time in a 24-hour period; however, it meant she went to bed a little later. Her pattern that had been so regular for years was disrupted.
Along with that has been a change in my whole morning routine. I was most concerned about her getting up early enough on the days we have a sitter. I wanted time for us to have lunch together before the sitter arrived. The other concern involved what time we eat lunch on the days we don’t have a sitter. We have eaten as late at 2:30 a number of times. Since I eat an early breakfast, I am ready to eat as early as 11:30 though eating between 11:30 and 12:30 works fine.
These two concerns led me to focus on getting her up earlier, not to get to Panera at the time we had been going but to be ready for lunch around noon. That meant that I let her sleep until 10:00 or 11:00 before attempting to wake her. Most of the time that gave her enough time to prevent her feeling rushed. Over the past week, it has been more difficult for her to get up.
Yesterday I tried something different. It was a day for the sitter to come at 1:00. At 10:15, I put on some music to gently wake her. About 15 minutes later, I checked on her. She was still in bed but awake. I asked if she would like me to take her to lunch. She said she would. I told her I had put her clothes out and the bathroom was already for her to shower. Then I left to give her a little time. When I returned thirty minutes later, she was sleeping soundly. I decided not to push her and try a little later even if it meant that the sitter took her to lunch. At noon, I checked again. She was awake but still in bed. I told her that this was a day for me to go to the Y and that Mary would be coming to stay with her. I asked if she would like to go to lunch. Again, she said yes.
After she was up and still having trouble getting going, I decided that I could ask Mary to meet us at Panera. I’ve done that a number of times before. As it turned out, we got to Panera only a few minutes before Mary, so I ate lunch with the two of them. When I finished, I left for the Y. I found that worked well and am prepared to do that on a regular basis if needed. It takes a load off me. I don’t have to be as concerned about waking her. It also allows Kate to do what she wants – sleep and take her time getting ready.
When I got home, Kate was resting on the sofa. Mary said they had stayed at Panera for a while before Kate wanted to come home. I gathered Kate had been resting a good bit of the time I was gone. That is another of my concerns. She seems to be using the time with the sitter to sleep. It’s hard for the sitter to control that, and that might easily explain something else that is happening.
Every change brings about responses that lead to other changes. My concern now is letting her sleep so much during the day that she can’t sleep at night. Until the last few days, that has not been an issue. During the past three nights, however, she has gone to bed early but was still awake an hour or two later. I want to avoid that’s becoming a pattern.
So, where does that leave me? The ideal resolution of the problem for me would be to wake her up at an earlier time. That should help her get to sleep more easily. I think I will try that for a few days and see how she responds. It seems worth a try. I may also be able to take advantage of those few times she gets up on her own. She did that a few minutes ago. She’s in the shower, and its only 10:10. That’s not a bad start.
Looking ahead, I believe that I will engage a sitter for at least a couple of mornings a week. I am not ready to do that just yet. Kate is just beginning to require help getting dressed, and I am not sure she would like someone new helping her. One thing is for sure. The changes are not going to stop. I will need to adapt.