Our Early Morning Experience

Early this morning I heard Kate whimpering. I asked what was bothering her. Our conversation went something like this and was repeated several times.

KATE:            “Where am I?”

RICHARD:    “You’re in our bed in our very own house in Knoxville.”

KATE:            “Thank God. <pause> Who are you?”

RICHARD:    “Richard Lee Creighton, and I am your husband.”

KATE:            (as if talking to herself) “That’s right. Where am I?”

RICHARD:    “You’re in your bed at home.”

KATE:            “What’s your name?”

RICHARD:    “Richard Creighton.”

KATE:            “I’m glad you’re with me. I feel safe when you’re with me.”

From this point she wanted to know the names of her mother and father, if we have children, and their names. Then she wanted to go to the bathroom and asked where it is. I asked if she wanted me to help her there. She did. I helped her up and walked her to the bathroom. As we walked, she said, “Are we in the hospital?” I said, “No, we’re at home. You’re going to be all right. I’ll make sure of that.” She said, “I’m glad you’re here. I feel safe with you.”

After she finished in the bathroom, I helped her back to bed. That began a repeat of the conversation above. She wanted to know where she was, who I was, and to hear about our children and grandchildren. She began to relax, and we both fell asleep.

I need to say that this experience was not exactly like the anxiety attacks she has had before. This one seemed more like a response to a bad dream. She began to feel relieved right away when I told her where she was and who I am. The anxiety attacks were more enduring. Her concern then was her state of mind. This time she seemed afraid of something that was happening to her. The fact that she asked if she were in a hospital and that she felt relief when I told her she was in her own home makes be think it had to have been a dream. This hasn’t happened often, but it has occurred several times over the past few years.

It is almost 9:30 right now, and she is still sleeping. I’ll probably see about waking her soon. If today is half as good as yesterday, it will be a terrific day.

A Great Day with the Franklins

I love being able to report good news, and that’s what I have in this report. Yesterday was our first full day with Ken and Virginia. Kate did not sleep as late as she has been. That enabled us to meet them at Panera for Kate’s muffin, morning beverages, and good conversation. From there we went to lunch at Carla’s. We are taking them to some of our regular places to give them an idea of our daily routine for the past few years.

If the day had ended right after lunch, I would have said we had a really good day, but the best was yet to come. Virginia and I were both hoping that Kate and Ken would have an opportunity to enjoy their time together apart from the four of us. I wasn’t quite sure how we might orchestrate that, but that turned out not to be a problem. After we returned home, they sat down on the sofa in the family room and started looking at some of the family photo books. Virginia and I made an exit to the kitchen. The two of them reviewed family photos and talked for at least three hours. I don’t recall another time that Kate has engaged in conversation with anyone else for that length of time.

I only wish I could have listened in on what they were saying. I do know one thing. More than two hours after they had been talking, Virginia heard Kate say, “What’s your name?” After Ken answered, she said, “And you’re my brother?” Later I mentioned that to Ken. He said she asked his name several times as they were talking. He said she asked very naturally. I was so glad he had that experience. That is exactly the experience I have with her.

Before we left for dinner. I asked if she would like to use the bathroom before we left. She said, “Yes, where is it?” I told her I would show her. She met the three of us in the kitchen a few minutes later. She walked in as though she had never been there before and said, “This is a nice kitchen.”

We topped off our day with dinner at Casa Bella. It was the last night for their program of music from Les Miserables. All of us enjoyed the music and food. It was a great evening and a suiting end to a very good day.

From Clarity to Excitement to Insecurity to Enjoyment to Confusion

All of us experience moments when we are up and when we are down. Kate sometimes changes quickly from one emotion to another. She hasn’t always been like that. Alzheimer’s is the culprit. Yesterday she went through a series of emotions from the time she awoke until we had gone to bed.

When I went I to wake her, her eyes were open. She was very relaxed. She was enjoying the comfort of a warm bed on a cold morning. As I approached her, she smiled warmly. There was no sign of confusion about who I was. I told her good morning and that I love her. She smiled again and motioned with her hands that she felt the same way about me.

We didn’t have any obligations that required her to get up at that time, but I thought it would be good for her to get up for lunch and take care of a few things before Ken and Virginia arrived later in the afternoon. Often she is resistant to getting up, so I approached this cautiously. I found that for the second day in a row she was very cooperative. We were off to a good start.

Apart from her usual problem with names, Kate seemed quite normal and completely at ease. We had lunch and came back home and relaxed a while. Later we went to Barnes & Noble. Shortly after we arrived, I received a call from Sue Glenn, a childhood friend of Kate’s in Fort Worth. She was calling to check on Kate. It was just over a year ago that we had visited with her and several other high school friends when we were in Fort Worth. We hadn’t spoken with her since a phone call conversation a few weeks after that. I always wonder how Kate will handle phone calls from people she has not seen or talked with in a long time. I was very pleasantly surprised that the call could not have gone better. I told Kate who was calling and handed her the phone. Her eyes lit up immediately. There was a clear sign of recognition. She and Sue chatted almost ten minutes. Kate couldn’t say much with a lot of specifics, but she was able to convey her feelings about her past experiences. I think I derived as much pleasure listening to Kate’s side of the conversation as she enjoyed talking with Sue. I don’t often see such excitement or recognition these days.

We went back home to await a call from Virginia and Ken. After their call, I told Kate they would be coming to the house and then we would go to dinner. Coming off the phone call with Sue, I expected Kate to show a similar reaction. Instead, she felt a little uneasy. She said she was tired and didn’t feel like being with anyone. She didn’t say much more. I thought (and still think) she felt the need to be a gracious hostess and wouldn’t be able to carry it off. I assured her she always did well in social situations and would be just fine. She said, “You promise?” I said, “I promise.”

I am happy to say that I was right. She was herself, and we all had a good time. We chatted a short time before going to dinner. The dinner also went well. Ken and Virginia got a sense of why we like eating out so much. We encountered a couple of people we hadn’t seen in a good while. That added another nice touch to the evening.

Ken and Virginia went back to their hotel after dinner. When we came in the house, Kate was confused about where she should go. She wanted to go to the bathroom and asked where it is. I took her to the one she uses most. It wasn’t long before I heard a loud “Hey.” She didn’t hear me answer and asked, “Hey, where are you?” I said, “I’m in our bedroom.” She said, “Where is that?” By that time, I had walked to her. She was standing in a hallway around the corner from our bedroom. She didn’t know where to go. As I walked her to the bedroom, we passed the open door of the guest bathroom. She looked in and saw the bathroom door to the bedroom was also open. She said, “What’s that?” I told her. She said, “Oh.” Nothing seemed familiar to her.

Her confusion continued after we were in bed. She had forgotten that we are married. This was the second night in a row we have had this experience. Our conversation sounded like a couple that is dating. I said, “I love you.” She laughed and said, “We’ll see.” I said, “Well, don’t you love me?” She said, “Maybe. We’ll see.” I said, “Maybe we should make this a long-term relationship.” She said, “Let’s not talk about this right now.” It wasn’t long before she touched me. Then she touched her lips and blew me a kiss. Shortly after that she put her arm around me and we went to sleep.

Signs of Christmas

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas. Our neighbors across the street started their decorating the week after Thanksgiving. When we returned from Texas, we noticed that the neighbors next door and one other put theirs up while we were gone. The past couple of years I haven’t done anything except to join all the neighbors in putting up a tree near the street in the front yard. All of us do that every year.

This could very well be the last Christmas that Kate and I will celebrate in a typical way. I felt like we should do more than in the past few years. I discovered that the wife of the man who has been helping to clean up the dead shrubs around the house is a former florist and decorator. I engaged her to put up greenery with red bows outside in each of the front windows. She also put garlands with white lights down the railings on either side of the front porch. I showed her some of the other decorations that Kate has used in the past. She use those along with a few new things and decorated our family room and the bay window in the kitchen. It is not elaborate but attractive. Kate was happy with what she had done. So was I.

Our church sponsored a Christmas luncheon for seniors that we attended yesterday. We were supposed to be at church at 11:15 to catch a bus to the restaurant where it was held. That made me a little nervous since it can easily be 11:30 or noon before Kate can get ready. Fortunately, that was not a problem. I woke her around 9:30. She got up easily, and we were there in plenty of time. I was happy about that because we have been very irregular in our church attendance for at least a year. I believe it is good for both of us to maintain our ties. This luncheon was a good opportunity with a group of people we have known for a long time.

Kate handled herself well as usual. After we arrived, I left Kate with a couple of friends while I went to a table to make name tags for us. I was gone only a short time when I noticed that she was looking around the room. I knew she was looking for me. I walked over to her. She said, “I didn’t know where you were.” The only thing I know that she couldn’t handle was how to answer a woman’s question as to where she lives. She turned to me and asked me to tell her. This was a woman we don’t know well and probably doesn’t know about Kate’s Alzheimer’s. She must have thought it strange. We had a brief conversation with another woman Kate didn’t remember. The woman said she had trouble with names herself. Then Kate proceeded to tell her she has the same problem. She went on to describe how she turns to me, points to someone she should remember, and asks me the person’s name.

We came back home after lunch. Kate rested for about almost an hour before we left to get our hair cut. They cut Kate’s hair first and then mine. Kate worked on her iPad while I was getting my hair cut. When I was through and ready to leave, she was in the middle of a puzzle and wanted to finish. I sat down with my iPad and did a little reading. The next thing I knew thirty minutes had passed. I asked if she were ready to leave. She said she wasn’t. She had gotten comfortable and was enjoying herself in much the same way she does at Panera or Barnes & Noble. I waited a few more minutes and then told her I thought it was time to go.

From there, we went to Target where I was looking for a hanger for the wreath for our front door. They didn’t have what I needed, but Kate walked very patiently through the store with me and back to the car.

It was getting close to dinner time, so we went to eat before going back home. We had a nice dinner. Then we returned home and relaxed until 9:00 when we started getting ready for bed.

Kate’s brother and his wife arrive from Texas this afternoon. As we left the restaurant last night, I reminded her of that. As I expected, she hadn’t remembered and asked their names. We went through them a couple of times. Then she asked when they were coming. When I told her this afternoon, she asked, “Where are they staying?” I told her they were staying in a hotel near us. She had a look of relief as she realized she didn’t have to do anything to get the house ready. I was pleased to see that. It is one of the few signs I have seen suggesting that she might feel some responsibility for taking care of things like that. Something similar happened yesterday afternoon. We drove up to our house, and I said, “Look at all the leaves, and (the person who cuts the grass) was just here last week.” Kate said, “I guess I’ll have to get out and rake them.” She has done a little raking in the past but never often. I was surprised that she assumed it would be her responsibility.

An Unusual Experience

Kate and I went to Panera after the sitter left yesterday. As always, she worked puzzles on her iPad while I worked on my laptop. About 5:30, I asked if she might be ready for dinner. She held her hand up as if to say, “Wait a minute.” She was working intensely on her iPad. She looked very serious as though she had run into a problem. I couldn’t see the screen but had to assume she was working a puzzle. That is all she does on it unless she accidentally opens another app. When that happens, she asks for my help getting back to her puzzles. This doesn’t involve the same seriousness I was witnessing.

I let her continue without interfering. About ten minutes passed. She was still engrossed with her iPad. I offered to help her. Once again she held up her hand to stop me. She finally closed her iPad, something she does when she gives up on solving a problem she encounters. She was disturbed. Tears were beginning to form in her eyes although she didn’t cry. I asked her to tell me what was bothering her. She tried to speak, but she couldn’t say anything that I could understand. At first, I thought she might be worried about her inability to work her puzzles. I did finally grasp that she was trying to tell me about something horrible that she had read.

Yesterday’s speaker at Rotary was the daughter of Holocaust survivors. I had told Kate what an emotional experience it had been for the entire club. I began to suspect that she had been thinking about the Holocaust. When I asked if that was what was bothering her, she said it was. She didn’t mean my telling her about the speaker. I am sure she didn’t remember I had done that, but somewhere in her brain the memory of the Holocaust had disturbed her. This is one of those events that will always be a bit of a mystery. Here is the only explanation that I can offer, and it sounds strange.

Kate is an emotionally sensitive person. That has been especially so since Alzheimer’s came into her life. As a school librarian, she became quite familiar with the Holocaust. Many students worked on research projects on the topic. Kate read a lot on the subject and has always taken an interest in WWII movies that deal with it. Perhaps my telling her about our speaker sparked her latent memories. That itself is not hard to imagine. The question is, “What kind of experience did she have for ten to fifteen minutes?” It looked like she was working on a puzzle, but she was too intent and emotionally involved for that. She conveyed that she had been looking at something about the Holocaust on her iPad. I don’t believe that could have occurred. She wouldn’t have known how to locate that kind of information. My only thought is that she was having an hallucinatory experience. She has had them before, but they were different. They have always involved her telling me about something that someone has said or done that I know didn’t occur. This time I was watching her as she was having an hallucination, BUT I’ll never know if that is really what happened.

A Good Experience with a Sitter

Next week it will have been a year and three months since I first engaged the services of an agency that provides in-home care. I arranged for a sitter to come for four hours three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Things have gone pretty well for the most part. The first couple of weeks we had a couple of sitters that didn’t work out. Since that time we have had the same sitter on Monday and the same one on Wednesday and Friday until recently when our Monday sitter had her own health problem. We had someone who took her place for two or three weeks before she also had health issues and won’t be back.

The agency sent a new person today. She is to serve on an interim basis until they can locate someone to be with us regularly. I didn’t get word about this until just before leaving for Thanksgiving, so I was a little uneasy about having someone new without my having met her previously. I suggested that they send her an hour early so that Kate and I could get to know her a little before I left for Rotary. I was prepared to skip Rotary if I felt at all uncomfortable.

My next concern involved getting Kate up in time for me to help her dress before the sitter arrived. She had gotten to sleep late last night. That made me think she would sleep late this morning. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered she got up early. She was still getting ready when the sitter arrived. That gave me time to give her a brief orientation to Kate and her needs and routine. When she walked into the family room, Kate reached out to give her a hug before I could introduce two of them. Kate and I liked her very much.

Since it was time for Kate’s lunch, I suggested that the three of us go over to Panera. We went in two cars so that I could go directly to Rotary from there. I ordered Kate’s lunch while the two of them took a seat. When I got to the table, the sitter told me she liked the name Jesse. I was surprised that Kate had remembered our daughter’s name. That doesn’t happen often. I left for Rotary, and they were talking just like they had been longtime friends.

I called the agency from the car letting them know that I was pleased. I told them I would like to have her on a regular basis if that were possible. They are going to let me if if they can work that out. I certainly hope so.

The Trip Home

Kate didn’t want to get up yesterday morning, but she did. We got to the airport two and a half hours before our flight’s departure. The only troublesome spot was going through security. It was a little like having two toddlers except that the TSA folks believe she can understand what is happening and what she should do. We stood in line to go through the typical scanner that you walk into, face to the right, and raise your hands above your head. I asked Kate to watch the people in front of us and do the same thing. It was a challenge for her to grasp. When there were a couple of people ahead of us, something happened to the scanner. We were shifted to go to the one you simply walk through without stopping. I thought we had it made. I walked first so that Kate could follow what I did. That was when they re-opened the other scanner and asked her to go through that one. She couldn’t follow what the man was trying to tell her. I told him she has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t follow directions well. He let her walk through behind me.

The other issue at security is taking off what is necessary and placing all the required items on the convey belt and collecting them once they have been scanned. Doing this while trying to keep and eye on Kate is a challenge. I was glad when we were through.

From then until the end of the flight’s arrival in Nashville, everything went smoothly. Kate was in a very good mood. She didn’t seem bothered by anything. She was quite relaxed. Before take off, she was working a puzzle. She stopped and asked my name. I told her. She tried repeating it to me. When she was not successful, she wanted me to repeat again. She did this several times consecutively. One time she asked me to say it slowly, and I said, “Richard.” She said, “Richard.” I said, “Lee.” She said “Lee.” I said, “Creighton.” She said, “Creighton.” A few minutes later, she pointed at me and then at herself. I thought her hand signals meant she wanted me to tell her her name and pointed to her to indicate that. She said, “No, yours.” We went through the routine of my name once again. Then Kate said, “What’s my name?” We went through the same routine with her name. She was able to get her first name but missed her maiden name and last name. I wondered if the person seated next to Kate could hear our conversation and, if so, what she was thinking.

Later in the flight, she tapped her hand on my leg. I looked over at her. She blew me a kiss. I returned it. Then I leaned over and said, “What’s my name?” She tried but couldn’t remember. We went through it a couple of times, and she got it. I said, “You got it. I love you.” She laughed and said, “But, can I remember it?” It was interesting that she continues to ask my name and hers so often without expressing any frustration or concern over her inability to remember. I am glad about that. It hurts when she experiences anxiety over not knowing who she is. The rest of the flight continued smoothly. She never stopped working on her puzzles.

She asked me quite a few times where we were going. When I told her we were going to Nashville, she asked why. I told her we were going to get our car and drive to Knoxville. I also told her we would spend the night in our own house. She was surprised and pleased each time and asked where we live. She didn’t seem to remember our having been in Lubbock at all. I continue to be amazed at how well she gets along when she remembers so little and never knows where she is or where she is going.

We were seated on the third row from the rear. I suggested that we let everyone else get off before we did. That worked well. It even allowed Kate extra time to thank the flight attendants as well as the clean-up crew that boarded after the other passengers had disembarked. Kate is now walking slower and slower. It took us a long time to get to baggage claim. Our bag had been removed and sent to customer service.

We caught the shuttle to get our car in the long-term lot. We didn’t have to wait long and were off to Knoxville. We stopped for a sandwich on the way. She surprised me when we walked in the house. I expected her to say, “I’ll follow you.” Instead, she walked through the family room ahead me. She didn’t know where she was going, however. She walked into the living room. She turned around and came out. Then she followed me to our bedroom. She was quite tired and soon went to bed. The change in time zone made it difficult for her to go to sleep, but she was happy. One of the last things she said was to ask my name, hers, and those of her mother and father.

Returning Home Today

It is approaching 8:00 CT as I write this post, and I am feeling a bit melancholy as we make our preparations for our return to Knoxville this afternoon. It has been a good trip. I was optimistic that we would be able to make this one, but Kate’s decline in the past six months made me wonder if we would make it. I am glad we did. It was special to spend Thanksgiving with Kevin and his family. It wouldn’t have been the same had we remained at home; however, it’s been a bitter sweet trip.

As I have noted before, her feelings for Texas have been stronger in the past few years, and she still occasionally mentions the possibility of a move back. In fact, she said something to me about that possibility since we have been here. As she has done a few times in the past, she asked what I thought we would do about moving. I told her I wasn’t sure. I suggested that we remain in Knoxville right now and see how things unfold. She accepted that without comment. At this stage she tends to follow my lead.

Despite her Texas pride, she has not expressed any special enthusiasm for being here, having Texas BBQ, or eating Tex-Mex. She also loves her children and grandchildren. She does not always remember that she has them, but when she does, she expresses her feelings about them. It was different this time. I believe most of that is because she is unable to remember who they are. At dinner last night she was unclear of who we were sitting with. I gave her the name of each person, but she couldn’t remember them. As she did when Kevin visited Knoxville in September, she said things that were clear signs of her Alzheimer’s. Last night for example, she asked, “Where are we?” as we were eating dinner. If she can’t remember where she is or who she is with, one can easily understand that it is hard to express enthusiasm for being here with her family.

Before we left the restaurant last night, Kate said she would like to use the restroom. I walked her to the door and waited for her. As she walked in, a woman was just leaving. Kate said something to her. The woman responded and then walked by me. I told her that Kate has Alzheimer’s and asked here if there were anything that Kate might find confusing. I mentioned that she has had occasional trouble getting out of the restroom. She said she didn’t notice anything that might present a problem. A few minutes later, Rachel, Kevin’s wife, asked if I would like her to go inside to help Kate if she needed anything. I told her I thought she would be all right and that I would just wait for her. It wasn’t long before I heard a knock on the door. I opened it. Kate was standing there. She was relieved to see me. I don’t know why, but she had been unable to open the door. My guess is that she tried to push it open rather than pulling it open. It is just one other reminder of the challenges faced by people with dementia everywhere they go. There are a million little things like this that we take for granted.

As we leave today, I won’t be thinking just about this as Kate’s last trip to Texas. I will also think of it as a point marking a change in my own life. We met in Fort Worth. We were married there. We lived there for two years after our wedding, and we have made regular trips to visit family in Texas ever since. We return now to Knoxville, our home for the past 47 years, but I carry with us memories of very special moments Kate and I have shared in Texas. I only wish she were able to remember them as well.

The Day After Thanksgiving

We had a good day yesterday. I can’t ever be sure exactly why some days are better than others. I believe that yesterday’s schedule was at least partially responsible. It was a day that was broken into several different segments. That is more typical of our daily routine when we are at home. It seems to be hard for Kate to do the same thing for an extended period of time. That is why we are rarely at home, Panera, or Barnes & Noble longer than two hours.

Kate was up earlier yesterday. They were still serving breakfast when we got to the dining room. They close at 10:00. We had our iPads with us and spent about an hour there before she felt tired. That is typical when she gets up earlier than usual. We came back to the room where she lay down on the sofa and napped another hour. Around the noon hour, Kevin and his family picked us up for lunch at a restaurant downtown. We followed that with a walk around the area and visited an historical site.

I was especially pleased that Kate was able to get in a little walk. Her life is very sedentary. She refuses to walk around the neighborhood or at a gym. She only walks to get from one place to another, and those are short trips. As a consequence, it is becoming more difficult for her to walk or even to get up from a seated position. She can do it herself, but she often wants to take my hand. Frequently, I put my hand under her arm and help lift her out of the car. Most of the time, she is quite accepting of that help. Other times, she refuses, saying she can do it herself.

One of the other challenges of walking involves her eyesight. I suspect it is her cataracts that present a problem. She is very sensitive to light and dark portions of the pavement as well as painted lines on the street or small pebbles in pavement of sidewalks. When we leave Panera at home, we sometimes exit by a side door that leads to wheel chair access to and from the parking lot. Although I tell her she does not need to step up or down, she is very cautious. When walking with a group as we were yesterday, it can be a challenge for others to walk as slowly as she does. Just walking across a street can take a while. As family, they were all understanding.

Kevin dropped us off at the hotel around 4:00. We had had a nice leisurely outing. Kate enjoyed herself although I would say that she was not as enthusiastic as she was six months ago when we were here. On the whole, her emotions are expressed with much less enthusiasm than in the past.

Kate and I relaxed in our hotel room for an hour and a half before we left to meet Kevin and his family for dinner at one of our favorite hamburger places. We had a good time and enjoyed our burgers. Knowing that Kate loves French fries, I got her a side order. I quickly noticed that she went for the fries before the burger. They were gone before she got down to the burger patty. I think I have mentioned before that she usually eats sandwiches including burgers in pieces. I haven’t identified a consistent pattern, but she normally takes off the top slice of bread or bun and puts it aside. Then with her hand, she picks off the individual ingredients (in this case, pickles and tomato) and eats them. I didn’t notice as she was eating but I believe the top of the bun was gone when I noticed she had eaten all the fries and had gotten down to the shredded lettuce and the patty. By then, the rest of us had finished eating. It took another ten or fifteen minutes for her to be ready.

As we walked back to our car, Kate was very cautious as we walked across the parking lot. It was lighted, but there were lots of shadows. She was concerned about possible uneven surfaces. I have heard that people with dementia often perceive patches of black to be holes and that a way to prevent walking away from home is to put a black mat in front of the doors leading to the outside. I’m not sure of the validity of this, but I wondered about that as we walked to the car. The position of the lights focused light on the front end of the cars where we had parked. This cast long shadows at the rear end of each car. I was holding Kate’s hand. As I turned to walk more directly to our car, we were about to walk into the shadow of the car next to us. Kate stopped. She looked at the shadow as if if it were a chasm. I told her it was all right, just a shadow of the car. She didn’t accept that. She pulled my hand and walked around the shadow rather than through it. Then I wondered how she would react when she noticed the shadow of our car. She ignored it completely. We walked right through it to the passenger side of the car.

She was in one of her appreciative moods as we drove back to the hotel. She thanked me for everything I do for her. This is not something that occurs everyday, but she expresses her appreciation often enough that I know she recognizes much that I do for her and is genuinely appreciative. That helps to keep me going. I know that some caregivers don’t hear such expressions as often.

Christmas music was playing in the lobby when we got back to the hotel. Kate said, “I love that.” That led me to turn on some Christmas music I have on my phone when we got to our room. We listened for an hour and a half while she worked on her iPad and I watched the Oklahoma/West Virginia football game with the sound turned down.

After a while, Kate lay down on the sofa and rested while listening to the music. I suggested that it was time for bed. She agreed but made no effort to get up. I finally got her up. In the process of getting her dressed for bed, she got irritated with me for pushing her. After we were in bed, she apologized and said, “You have to put up with so much from me.” She still seems quite perceptive in ways like this. I would love to know exactly what she notices and what she doesn’t.

Thanksgiving Day

We had a nice day. It was a little different from past visits. For the second day in a row, I had to wash clothes before leaving the hotel. I am sure this is one of the things that discourages many caregivers from traveling with their loved ones. During the morning, we remained at the hotel until time to get to Kevin’s for the Thanksgiving meal. Kate was especially relaxed. After being awake around 6:30, she went back to sleep and didn’t get up until I woke her around 10:30. We were here last in May. That was just before Kate’s sleeping became more erratic. Since then it has been difficult to plan things before noon or 1:00. I stayed in touch with Kevin concerning our progress in getting ready, and we arrived at his house pretty much on time.

We got off to a good start. Kate seemed very much herself and greeted our son and his family as she always has. Rachel’s parents, Lila and Jerry Livingston were also with us. I know Kate could not remember them, but she carried off the initial moments quite well. It wasn’t until we were eating that she seemed to work hard to be a part of the conversation. It’s hard for me to explain, but she didn’t seem like herself. She was like a child seeking attention. At one point, she made several impolite remarks to Lila, and even suggested that Lila might be lying. The rest of us were silent. No one knew quite what to say. The fortunate thing is that everyone is aware of Kate’s Alzheimer’s and has been around Kate long before the diagnosis. I feel sure they understood this wasn’t Kate speaking. It was the Alzheimer’s. It was similar to the way she was in a conversation at Barnes & Noble a week or two ago. I hope this doesn’t become a habit. If it does, I may have to create some small cards explaining that she has Alzheimer’s. I could slip them to people we encounter in public situations.

The experience also reminded me of a book written by Martin Schreiber, My Two Elaines. His choice for a title emphasized the personality differences between his wife before and after her Alzheimer’s. Until recently, I hadn’t experienced anything like this with Kate. As with so many things, I wonder what lies ahead.

Following lunch, we turned on the Cowboys/Redskins ball game. For twenty or thirty minutes, Kate looked through a photo book of Kevin’s family trip to several national parks in the West. Brian, Kevin’s son, explained what she was seeing. She went through the entire book and enjoyed it. After that, she withdrew from the group. She rested in her chair with her eyes closed for a long time. I doubt that she was asleep but may have dosed periodically. After a while, I went out to the car and got her iPad and brought it to her. She is usually quick to accept it and work on it for a long period of time. That wasn’t so yesterday. She simply kept it beside her.

Coincidentally, I was involved in a short Twitter exchange this week that involved the challenges of being in groups for people with dementia. I commented that Kate does best with just one other couple and even better one-on-one. Yesterday’s experience adds to all the other changes I have noticed over the past few months. It even makes me a bit more cautious about our plans to be with Jesse and her family for Christmas.

After eating some of the leftover turkey and brisket, we came back to the hotel. Kate quickly got into her puzzles on the iPad. I checked email, Twitter, and started my draft of this post. I tried to find the last of the football game on our TV but stopped on the Discovery Channel instead. We both enjoyed the featured program on animal behavior.

Kate seemed to be herself. She was tired and got to bed a little earlier than the past few nights. She is still sleeping now at 7:50. I think we will take it easy this morning. I’ll be in touch with Kevin about possibilities for lunch and the afternoon.