Sometimes there are dramatic moments that one can recall as a point when life changed. The moment Kate’s doctor delivered the news of her diagnosis was one of those. It was mid-day on January 21, 2011, exactly one week after Kate’s 70th birthday. That was a clear marker in our lives. Most other changes are less defined. They just creep up on you. That has been the pattern for Kate and me the past 7 years and 8 months.
Although our changes have been very gradual, I frequently wonder if we are entering a new phase when I notice any difference in Kate’s normal pattern. The changes in her sleeping late in the spring made me think that a signal of an important change. Of course, I couldn’t be sure at the time. Looking back, it appears I was right. Since then, Kate’s changes in memory and confusion have increased more significantly than at any other time since her diagnosis.
One of those changes has been her behavior in connection with the sitters. For months, she happily greeted them. That made me feel good as I left her. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed less enthusiasm when the sitter arrives. On several occasions, Kate has asked if she could go with me. She seemed disappointed when she couldn’t. Along with that reaction, there have been some occasions when she and the sitter didn’t go to Panera. She is also spending more time resting while the sitter is here.
During this same period of time, she was growing more dependent on me. I have mentioned several times, once in the last day or two, that Kate has told me she likes being with me, that she feels safe with me. She hasn’t said this around the time the sitter has been here, but I have always wondered if there might be a connection. An experience yesterday strengthened that suspicion.
We arrived at Panera for lunch a little later than I had wanted and called the sitter to meet us there rather than at home. A few minutes before Mary arrived, I reminded Kate that I would be going in a few minutes and that Mary would take her home. She gave me a big frown. I said, “Do you feel like I am deserting you?” She said sternly, “Yes, and I don’t like it.” All of a sudden I felt like a parent leaving her young child on the first day of school.
When I got home, Kate was resting on the sofa in the family room with the sitter who was watching TV. I walked the sitter to the car and asked if they had stayed long at Panera. She told me they stayed “a little while.” She said Kate had wanted to go back home where she rested for a while. Then she got up several times and returned to the family room. She worked on the iPad a little but also rested a good bit.
In our conversation, I suggested that if this happens again that she might take her back to Panera. She seemed a little surprised. I told her it is not uncommon for us to go back more than once in a day or to Barnes & Noble. I also told her that Kate gets bored staying at home for long stretches and that we are rarely home for more than 2-3 hours in a day. I will convey this to our other sitter the next time she is here. I am hoping to work with the sitters to address the issue. I feel that is a better direction than reducing the sitters’ time.