About 7:45 this morning, I saw on the video cam that Kate was getting out of bed. I walked to the bedroom and saw her standing at the foot of the bed. She was glad to see me, actually relieved though I didn’t realize it until a few minutes later. I asked if she wanted to go to the bathroom. She said she did and asked where it was. I walked her there. I left her in the bathroom and went back to the kitchen where I could watch the video cam to see when she was ready to go back to bed.
It wasn’t long before I heard her say, “Hey.” She had cracked the door open. When I got to her, she wanted to know what she should do now. I told her it was still early and that she should rest a little longer. As we walked, she thanked me for helping her. She said, “I don’t know anything. I don’t know what to do.” I told her I would help her. She thanked me again and said, “You’re so nice to me. You make me feel better.”
After she was in bed, she said, “I don’t even know where I am.” I explained that she was in her very own home in Knoxville. She said, “I am?” Then I told her it was our home. She was surprised and couldn’t understand how that had happened. As we talked, she began to relax. I told her I was going back to the kitchen and that she could call me if she needed anything. She asked my name. I told her and said, “Just call my name.” Then I said, “Or you could just say, ‘Hey.’” She repeated “Hey,” and I told her that was all she needed for me to come back. Before leaving, I asked if she would feel better if I sat in my chair beside the bed. She told me I didn’t need to do that. She thanked me again, and I left the room.
This was a moment in which I felt her complete dependence on me. She said it was frightening. I can’t imagine what it must feel like, but frightening seems to come close. Her memory is flying away, but she still retains the ability to recognize she has a problem and can’t understand why. It was a similar experience last summer that led me to remind her that she has Alzheimer’s. I chose not to tell her this time. I decided to focus solely on being compassionate in the words I spoke and in the tone of voice I used. I told her she was going to be all right, that I was with her and would help her. That seemed to work.
I wonder how she will feel when she gets up. It’s quite possible that she may not feel the same level of confusion. On the other hand, I know that someday the confusion will not go away. By then, she may not realize she has a problem at all. I don’t want that nor do I want her to suffer from recognizing how little she knows or understands. What I wish for most is something that can’t be. I wish she didn’t have this disease at all. Like all caregivers in my position, I have to focus on what I can do – make her life as pleasurable and frustration free as possible. That has served us well up to this point. I trust that it will carry us through to the end.