Thoughts on Living Normally

A couple of days ago, I read a Facebook post by a friend whose 8-year-old-daughter has Down syndrome. She and her daughter were in Nashville to make a pitch to the legislature not to overlook children with special needs when it comes to the education budget. She talked about the importance of providing special needs children with as many “normal” educational experiences as possible. I am not an expert with respect to those with special needs, but what she suggests makes sense to me. That has been my approach to care for Kate.

Right after her diagnosis, we talked about how we wanted to spend our time. We agreed that we wanted to focus on the kind of things that were important to us before Alzheimer’s. We didn’t think of it this way, but what we wanted was to lead normal lives. We wanted to remain active for as long as we could. That involved travel, attending live performances, dining out, and maintaining contact with friends.

It has been eight years since Kate’s diagnosis, but we continue to be as active as possible. I suspect we spend less time at home than many people our age. We are reasonably active in getting together with other people for meals and outings like our trip to Flatrock Friday night. Just the social engagement we have with our servers at the restaurants we frequent provides a source of social contact and support. I am sure they would never imagine the contribution they make to our lives.

I wish I knew a way to assess the impact our social engagement has had on us. I am sure it has enhanced the quality of our lives and probably helped us maintain a positive outlook on life even at the present stage of her Alzheimer’s. My best guess is that Kate is just past the mid-point of Stage 6 of the seven-stage model. Life is changing, but we are still active and happy.

Over time, we have had to modify our activity. Our last international trip was four years ago in May. We love Chautauqua, NY, in the summer. We’ve spent at least a week there in each of thirteen summers, ten consecutive years until our last one in 2017. The past two years we have rarely gone to any evening events that start later than 6:00. Thus, we no longer attend the Knoxville Symphony. We have been able to continue going to live theater performances because they all have Sunday afternoon matinees. We rarely attend church on Sunday because it is difficult to get Kate ready in time. As I have frequently reported, we no longer make our daily trip to Panera for Kate’s muffin in the morning. We usually go straight to lunch. That has cut down on our social contact. Until ten-to-twelve months ago, we often spent more than six or seven hours a day away from home. That is now four to six at the most.

My background in sociology has made me sensitive to the variety of environmental factors that can affect us. That leads me to believe that my friend whose daughter has Down syndrome is making a good point that the value of living a normal life is good for her daughter and other people with special needs. To the extent possible, Kate and I have tried to live as we did before Alzheimer’s. I believe it has worked.

A Nice End to a Good Week

It’s Sunday morning. Kate is still sleeping. I’m thinking about the good times we’ have had this week. Kate has experienced her normal confusion, but we have been active. Both of us have enjoyed ourselves. After our trip to Flatrock to see Jeanne Robertson, we arrived in Knoxville in time for our regular lunch at Bluefish. As the server walked away with our check, she stopped at the booth behind us and asked if they wanted dessert. Kate thought she was speaking to us and said, “What do you have?” Rather than call the server back, I told Kate that I would take her to Marble Slab on the way home. She thought that was a great idea. After eating our favorite ice cream concoctions, we went to the house. Kate was ready to rest. That was followed by working puzzles before going to dinner. Once home, we had a quiet evening watching YouTube video segments of Andre Rieu concerts. When we got into bed, we talked about what a good day it had been and how many good days we’ve had during our marriage. We finished the day like any other married couple would do. I said, “I love you.” She said, “I love you too.”

I treasure days like this.

Another Day of “Happy-Sad” Moments

For the second day in a row, Kate got up early. I was especially glad because she had a 10:30 appointment with her ophthalmologist. It was her final follow-up visit after her cataract surgery. I planned to wake her about 9:00. I knew even that might cause her to rush. I also assumed we wouldn’t have time to get her a muffin before the appointment. It turned out we didn’t need to rush at all. She got up at 8:00. That enabled us to stop by Panera for her muffin and work a few jigsaw puzzles before hand. We were early enough to see several people in the Catholic group that comes regularly after morning mass. It has been several months since we have seen the Baptists who have Bible study on Tuesdays from 9:30 to 10:30. I have heard indirectly that they have been asking about us.

The good news about the doctor’s appointment is that she said Kate’s eye had healed nicely. She also removed a stitch she had put in to protect the implant if Kate had forgotten she wasn’t supposed to rub her eye. That turned out to be a good plan. Testing her eyesight is almost impossible. Although she tested at 20/50 a month ago, she didn’t do as well two weeks ago. Yesterday was even worse. It is hard for her to know how to follow instructions and where to focus. They finally took her to another room where they were able to test her through digital technology.

Yesterday afternoon, we drove to North Carolina, to attend a show at the Flatrock Playhouse. On the way, Kate repeatedly asked where we were and where we were going. At this stage of her Alzheimer’s, it is simply impossible for her to remember things like this. Her brain won’t “allow” it. We also had one of those conversations in which we talk about about our marriage, our families, and the many experiences we have had followed by her asking my name and her name. As usual, she asked without any sense of frustration or concern. She just wanted to know. I never mind her asking. It’s those times she is troubled by not knowing that bother me. We had one of those later in the evening.

We made this trip at the invitation of a couple we know from Casa Bella. We have attended one other show at the Playhouse with them in the fall. Kate, of course, never remembers them, but she enjoys being with them. They are friendly people, and she feels comfortable with them. Last night’s performance was the comedienne Jeanne Robertson. This was the first time time in our marriage that we had attended a performance by a comic other than as part of a variety show on a cruise. Kate doesn’t generally take to comedians, and I was worried that she wouldn’t enjoy her. Before accepting the invitation I looked at a couple of YouTube segments of some of her other shows and decided it was worth a chance. I’m glad I did. Kate thoroughly enjoyed it. I am sure she didn’t understand much of it, but a good comedian is successful for much more than the exact words. She enjoyed it so much that I was a bit surprised when we saw Robertson in the lobby talking with others who had attended, and Kate had no idea who she was. That was true even after I explained that she was the one we had seen on stage in the auditorium.

As we walked to dinner and from dinner to the Playhouse, Kate whispered to me, “Where are we?” She repeated her question a number of times as well as when we went to our hotel for the night. When we got to our room, she said, “I sure am glad I’m with you. I have no idea where I am.” That was the beginning of a lengthy conversation that continued off and on for about an hour. She said, “I want you to know how much I appreciate what you do for me.” I told her that everything I do for her is because I love her. She was a bit teary but never broke into a full cry.

During the early part of the conversation, it sounded like she understood that she has Alzheimer’s. She said things like, “You’re the only one who knows what I am going through, and I even have trouble remembering your name. I do sometimes, but . . .” As she talked a little more, I learned that she was disturbed because she has lost “so many of my family.” She was worried that she had not done enough for them. I tried to encourage her. I reminded her of the way she had cared for her mother and how good we both felt about having her in our home the last years of her life.

On this particular trip she seemed to be less at ease in a strange place than at any other time. I’ve been looking for this on our previous trips but haven’t observed it. I’m not even sure about this one, but a few times she said, “I’ll be glad when we get home.” One of the reasons it is hard to determine if it is uneasiness about being in a strange place is that she sometime says the same thing when we are at home. In those cases, I don’t know if she thinks we are in Texas and wants to go to Knoxville or if she understands we are in Knoxville and wants to go home to Texas.

When I got ready to shower, she asked if it would be all right if she worked on her iPad. I told her that would be fine. She said, “Are you sure?” I told her this was a time she could relax and do whatever she wanted. I reminded her that we had no commitments in the morning, and she could sleep as late as she wanted.

It wasn’t until we turned out the lights and were in bed that she said, “Thank you. I’m beginning to relax now.” She continued to talk for a while. Then she drifted off to sleep. She slept until 5:00 this morning when she got up to go to the bathroom. When she got back in bed, she wanted to know “Where are we?” I told her, but she asked several more times. It took her a good while to get back to sleep. It is now 9:45. She is still sleeping soundly. If she doesn’t wake before, I will get her up around 11:00 so that we can get home early in the afternoon.

Considering everything, it was a very good day. She was in a good humor and enjoyed herself. She seems comfortable with the friends who invited us and loved the show last night. What more could I ask this long after her diagnosis? We continue to have good times. How fortunate we are.

Thoughts on Dependence, Appreciation, and Responsibility

Yesterday was another very nice day for Kate and me. It was just one of many. It was also a day when I was a little more mindful of how dependent she is. Like other days in recent months, she looked to me for guidance on things you might not expect. For example, she asked me if she should take a tube of toothpaste and her hair brush with us when we went to Panera yesterday morning. After returning from lunch she asked me where she should go to rest. I told her she could lie down on our bed or the sofa in the family room. She chose the bed.

We don’t normally think about it, but our rational thought processes guide us most of the time during a given day. We remember that we have an appointment at a specific time and understand how much time we have to prepare before leaving. We remember the rooms in our homes and where we sit when we want to relax, and where to lie down when we are tired. When people with dementia lose these abilities, they don’t know what to do next. That is where Kate finds herself much of the time. It’s hard for those of us without dementia to fully understand what this is like.

Thursday is the only day of the week we don’t have a regular place for lunch. Since she was up early, and we had gotten to Panera and had no other commitments until haircuts at 3:00, I took her to a restaurant we’ve visited only a few times. It’s almost a twenty-minute drive, but it’s a nice place and worth it occasionally. We had a very pleasant lunch. Just before we left, she asked me if I thought she should use the restroom before leaving. We decided that was a good idea, and I walked her to it. As I often do, I waited outside the door just in case she needed something. It turned out that was a good thing. When she came out, she had a paper towel in her hand and didn’t know what to do with it. She hadn’t noticed the trash container inside. I took the towel and put it in the trash. Then I noticed a roll of toilet paper on the floor. I picked it up.

As we drove away, she said, “You know, when I’m with you I feel at ease. I know I’ll be all right.” I said, “Do you feel uneasy when I’m not around.” She said, “No, I can handle myself all right. I just feel better when you are with me.” I’ve often heard her say things like “I’m glad you’re driving. I could get home by myself, but it might take me a while.” She recognizes she has a problem with tasks like these, but she also likes to think that she can really take care of herself if she had to. I am glad that is something she can hold on to.

Kate has always been appreciative, but she is becoming more so as her dependence increases. She thanks me for specific things like helping her find the bathroom or getting back to bed. She also thanks me at times when I haven’t done anything. I occasionally read several online message boards for caregivers. I realize that many caregivers don’t receive this kind of gratitude and, because of that, sometimes feel resentful. That’s not an experience I’ve had. That makes caring for Kate easier than it would otherwise be. In fact, her decline and her appreciation act together to give me a greater sense of responsibility and determination to see that her needs are met. Like other caregivers, I am guided by two broad goals – to keep her feeling safe and secure and to keep her happy. Her response to my efforts reinforces that commitment to her.

That reminds me of something else that is true for all successful marriages. Marriage involves two people working together. Kate and I are still partners. Her dependence doesn’t mean I am working alone. She’s unable to do much for herself now, but she is still doing what she can for me. She does that with her expressions of appreciation. That makes all the difference in the world. When she was first diagnosed, we said we would face this challenge together, and we are.

Thirty minutes ago, Kate got up to go to the bathroom. I went to her. She asked me where the bathroom was. I showed her. When she came out, she asked if she could go back to bed. I told she could and that I would let her know when she needed to get up for her eye doctor’s appointment at 10:30. She thanked me. As started to walk away, she said, “What is your name?” I told her. She said, “What is my name?” She said, “And what is your name?” I told her again. She said, “What is my name?” She repeated both questions one more time. She didn’t ask out of fear or anxiety. She simply wanted to know our names. She looks to me for help with things like that. I’m glad to be here for her.

Back to Panera

Increasingly, I find that I am no good at predicting what each morning will be like. Thankfully, we haven’t had any bad mornings. I’m mostly thinking about what time we will start the day. Overall, Kate gets up later than she did a year ago; however, she periodically surprises me like she did this morning. She was up at 7:30 to go to the bathroom. That’s not unusual although she usually does that a little earlier. This morning’s surprise was that she got up again at 8:30 and was ready to start the day.

Like the two previous mornings, she seemed alert, not groggy the way she often is. I asked if she wanted to shower. She did. I was glad as she hadn’t showered in two days. I thought I would have to coax her, but we avoided that. I left her after she was in the shower and went back to the kitchen. My next surprise was that she didn’t take as long to shower as usual. She often showers for fifteen minutes or so.

I went back to show her the clothes I had put out for her. It seems that no matter where I put them she doesn’t see them and has to asked me for them. That was the case this morning. I was fully prepared for her to get back in bed, but she didn’t. She was ready to dress.

As I helped her dress, she said, “What’s your name?” That was the first sign of any memory loss or confusion. Otherwise, she seemed perfectly normal except for needing my help finding the bathroom and getting her clothes. It made me think again about how easy it is for someone with dementia to get by in brief social encounters without anyone’s suspecting the diagnosis. As usual, she asked my name in much the same way that she might have asked, “What’s on TV?” She is perfectly natural and doesn’t appear to be bothered in any way by not remembering.

After I told her my name, she tried to repeat it but couldn’t. She tried to say “Creighton.” I repeated it for her, and she tried again. She got it on the third or fourth try and repeated it several times in succession. Then I said, “Do you know who I am?” She hesitated and tried to think but didn’t say anything. I told her, and she smiled. I said, “Don’t you believe me?” She said, “I believe you.” She seemed comfortable with that, but didn’t express any special enthusiasm.

We got ready more quickly than usual and arrived at Panera by 9:30. We haven’t done that many times in the past 8-10 months. She is working happily on her puzzles as I write this post. That reminds me of another surprise. This involves her puzzles. Last night she asked me for help. When I looked at the puzzle, I noticed that she had completed all the edge pieces and was starting to place the others. That struck me because I have suggested for weeks that she start by finding the edge pieces and putting them in place. They are easier to identify. Once placed it is easier to place the others. That is especially true when you are working with 16-piece puzzles.

A little later, I was also surprised when she needed help finding the last remaining piece. This time it was because she couldn’t find the piece itself. She was able to see the “hole” in the center of the puzzle where the piece should go. I frequently show her the piece and the empty space, but she has never been able to see it. That has been a big “puzzle” for me. I can only chalk it up to her Alzheimer’s.  Both of these surprises tell that she is able to learn some things that I thought she couldn’t. Her rational ability has not totally vanished.

Unfortunately, it’s a quiet morning at Panera. We haven’t see anyone we know except the staff, but Kate enjoyed her muffin and is now enjoying her puzzles. It’s also a nice break from our regular routine. It looks like another good day.

A Big Success with the Sitter

A year and a half ago, I engaged sitters for Kate. On the whole, it has gone quite well. Kate accepted having them from the start; however, she has never been enthusiastic about them. More recently, as she has become more dependent on me, she has sometimes wanted to go with me when I leave or for me to go with her and the sitter if they are going to lunch. Each time I have managed to let her know that I needed to go to Rotary, the Y, or a meeting, and she didn’t protest.

Despite Kate’s acceptance, I’ve never felt fully comfortable leaving her. I’ve done it because I feel that it is important for me to have time away to do other things. It also sets the stage for increasing the sitters’ time in the future. Two experiences in the past five days have made me feel better about leaving her.

The first occurred last Friday. As I walked into the family room where Kate and the sitter were seated, I heard the sitter tell Kate that she would see her “next week.” Kate apparently misunderstood and thought she might not be coming back. Kate looked frightened and said, “You’re not coming back?” Mary repeated that she would be back next week. Kate said, “Good, because I need you.” I was happy to see that she not only felt comfortable with the sitter, but there seemed to be an emotional bond.

On Monday, we had a different sitter, Cindy. When I got home, they were engaged in a conversation, and Kate was playing a very active role in it. Cindy told me that Kate had not taken a nap and that they had been talking all afternoon. That was another victory. We had two good experiences with two different sitters.

I found both of these experiences encouraging, but the biggest victory came yesterday with Mary, our Wednesday/Friday sitter. Normally, I would leave for the Y as soon as s arrives. We had just returned home from lunch, and I wasn’t going to the Y but a dental appointment at 2:00. I didn’t need to rush, so I talked with Kate and Mary about ten minutes. I think that worked better than my leaving as quickly as I usually do. When I told Kate goodbye, she didn’t show any sign of disappointment that I was leaving or that she couldn’t come with me. The big surprise came when I arrived home. I found the two of them were still seated in the same chairs they were in when I left. I asked if they had gone out. Mary said they stayed at home and never left the family room. They talked and listened to the music playing on my audio system when I left. She added that they both rested in their chairs a short time. After Mary left, Kate said, “She is really nice.” It wasn’t just the words. It was the emotion she expressed as she said them. She had a really good time with Mary, and I felt better about having sitters than at any time since we began a year and a half ago. That was a victory.

A Day of Uplifting Social Experiences

At 9:40 yesterday morning, I saw on the video cam that Kate was up and walking back to bed. I went to her and discovered that she had gone to the bathroom next to our bedroom. I said, “I see you’re up.” She said, “For the moment.” She pulled back the covers and got back into bed. She said, “Is that all right?” I said, “That’s fine.”

An hour later at 10:45, I brought her clothes to her, and we had the following conversation.

Richard:        “Today is a special day. It’s your daddy’s birthday.”

Kate:              (She smiled.) “What’s his name?”

Richard:        “Carl Franklin. He was a good man and he loved his little girl.”

Kate:              “Who are you?” (In a very natural, conversational tone)

Richard:        “Before I tell you, do you recognize me?”

Kate:             “Sure. You have a nice voice. I know other people tell you that.”

Richard:        “I’m Richard Creighton, and I’m your husband.”

Kate:              “How did we meet?”

Richard:        “We met at a friend’s house on a Sunday evening in September, 1960.”

Apart from her memory loss, she was very relaxed and seemed just fine. She expressed no uneasiness about not knowing my name or my being her husband.

When she was ready, we went to lunch. On the way, she asked me where we were four or five times and several times on the way home. We had a very pleasant lunch at Carla’s. We hadn’t seen the hostess in a couple of weeks. I asked where she had been. She told us that she and her siblings had moved their mother from Guam where the family had grown up. During our meal, an acquaintance took a table next to ours. She was meeting friends who had not yet arrived. She sat down at our table and we chatted until her friends arrived. We don’t know her that well. She is French but spent most of her youth in Egypt where her father was a dentist. It was nice getting to know her a little better.

Although we eat lunch there almost every Tuesday, Kate commented on the restaurant as though she had never been there before. They serve gelato that we both love, but she never remembers that. It seems like her sense of taste is not nearly as strong as her other senses. <g>

When we returned home, Kate asked me what she “could do now.” I told her we could go into the family room where she could work on her iPad. She said that would be fine. She wanted to know where she should sit. I pointed to a chair and told her she usually sat there so that she could look outside to the back yard. I put her iPad on the chair. She walked over, picked it up and said, “What’s this?” I told her that was her iPad. I took it from her and said, “Let me show you what you can do with it.” I opened the cover and touched the icon for her puzzle app. As it started to load, I said, “Now watch what happens.” I showed her a selection of puzzles of flowers and said, “When you touch one of them, it will break into pieces that you can put together.” She looked amazed and said, “That’s neat.” It was as if she had never seen it before. It is hard to believe this is possible when she spends as much as 6 hours a day working such puzzles.

While she was working on her iPad, I tuned into a station featuring the music of Frank Sinatra and other singers of his period. The first song was “New York, New York.” I can’t remember the last time we heard that song, but she recognized it before she heard the first words. A little later, we heard Rosemary Clooney singing “Mambo Italiano.” She chuckled in recognition as it played. I said, “This is ‘Old-fashioned’ music. She said, “I love it.” As much as I’ve observed the power of music for her, I was still taken aback by how quickly she recognized these old songs when shortly before she hadn’t even remembered what her iPad can do.

After a while, I suggested we go to Barnes & Noble. She liked the idea. I was happy about that. I felt it would be good for both of us to get out of the house. That worked out well. We had conversations with two different people. One is a member of our church who meets with a group of other men each Tuesday afternoon. The other is a young woman who tutors students there almost every weekday. We often chat with her in between or before her students arrive.

Kate began to have problems working her puzzles, and I suggested it was a good time to break for dinner. We went to Bonefish Grill where we know the hostess and several servers who speak to us even when they are not serving us. It is the only restaurant we frequent where we don’t have just one server that we request each time. That has made for an added bit of social activity when we dine there – even when we don’t see other people we know. Before taking our seats, Kate wanted to go to the restroom. I walked her to the door and walked back to my seat where I could see her when she came out. The servers look out for her as well. Last night our server was walking back to the kitchen when Kate came out of the restroom. She walked Kate back to our table. Eating out turned out to be another social experience for us.

As we were winding down the day at home, our son Kevin called. It was nice way to end our day.  It was a good day. That doesn’t mean there was any improvement in Kate’s condition, but I felt we had a day of more uplifting experiences than some recent days. That keeps us going.

A Rocky Start with a Nice Finish

Yesterday morning I had two surprises. I was happy about the first one. Not so for the second. First, the good news. I saw on the video cam that Kate was up, and it was about 8:00. I always like it when she gets up without my having to wake her. That is especially true on a day that we have a sitter. That insures that I don’t have to rush her before the sitter arrives. It’s even better on Monday because the sitter comes at noon instead of 1:00.

When I got to the bedroom, she had just come out of the bathroom. She seemed alert and showed no signs of confusion. I asked if she was going to take a shower. She said she was. I knew that she would want to rest a while after her shower, but I also knew that we had plenty of time and still might be able to get to Panera for her muffin, something that is a rarity these days. As expected, she got her shower and went back to bed.

A few minutes after 10:00 I decided to get her up. That’s when I received the second surprise of the morning. She wasn’t asleep, but her eyes were closed. I asked if she would like me to take her to get a muffin. She gave me a strange look. She wasn’t the same alert Kate I had greeted earlier. She was clearly confused. When I said that I had her clothes out and would help her get dressed, she looked at me sternly and said, “Who are you?” I gave her my name and told her I was her husband. She was surprised. That is not unusual; however, she was obviously uncomfortable and pulled the covers up to her neck. I said, “You do recognize me, don’t you?” She didn’t and didn’t want me to help her dress. This was totally unlike any of our previous experiences. There wasn’t any way that I was going to explain this.

I didn’t push her. I told her I thought I could help her and got her “Big Sister” album. I showed her the photo of her and her brother on the cover. She didn’t show any sign of recognition until I pointed to her picture and said, “Who do you think this little girl is?” She hesitated and then said, “Me.” I turned to the first page and showed her a photo of her with her mother and daddy. Then I turned to a section that has a few of our wedding pictures. She didn’t remember anything.

I decided she just needed a little more time. I told her I wanted to take her to get a muffin. She asked about her clothes. I showed them to her and suggested she get dressed. By this time, she was beginning to feel more comfortable with me, but she still did not believe I was her husband. She did, however, let me help her dress.

When she was dressed, she noticed a wedding picture of our daughter, Jesse, on the dresser and said, “Who is she?” I explained that she was our daughter. She walked over to it and asked if she could take it with us. I told her she could. She asked where she could keep it. I told her this was our room and that she could keep it right there on the dresser if she liked. She still wanted to take it with her.

In the car on the way to Panera, I said, “You seem like you’re feeling less confused now.” She acknowledged that she was and said, “What’s your name?” I said, “Richard Lee Creighton.” Then she asked me her name. I said, “Katherine Franklin Creighton.” She frowned when she heard “Creighton.” I didn’t say anything.

When we got closer to Panera, she asked my name again. I told her and added that I was her husband. She wasn’t buying that. After we had been seated a while, she asked my name. I told her and said that I was her husband. She didn’t believe me. Again, I didn’t push.

We had been at Panera about forty minutes when I thought we needed to get home for the sitter. On the way I reached out my hand and touched her leg and said, “I love you.” She put her fingers to her lips and blew me a kiss and said, “I love you too.” I took that as a sign that she had finally recognized who I was.

The sitter arrived a few minutes after we were home, and Kate seemed perfectly normal. I said I was going to Rotary, and she said, “What are we going to do?” I told her that she and Cindy could go to lunch at either Applebee’s or Panera. She said, “Why don’t you go with us?” I explained that I needed to attend my meeting. She didn’t seem to mind that, but I was glad to see that she would have felt even better if I had stayed.

When I returned home, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Kate and Cindy were having a conversation in the family room. Kate seemed to be taking the lead. Cindy said they had gone to Applebee’s for lunch and come back to the house. She said Kate had not worked on her iPad at all and that they had been talking the whole time. That was another surprise and a welcome one. I was happy for two reasons. First, that she hadn’t had a nap. Second, because she was able to engage in conversation for such a long period of time and that she was doing a lot of the talking. I want Kate to develop a strong relationship with her. This was a dramatic contrast with her confusion this morning. I felt much better.

The rest of the day went very well. We spent about an hour and a half at Barnes & Noble and then went out for a Mexican meal at Chalupas. She spent the rest of the evening working on her iPad while I watched the news. Then I turned on a series of YouTube videos for her. Several times she needed help with her puzzles, but she seemed to get along well after that. When I told her it was bedtime, she was very cooperative. She slept through the night and is still sleeping as I finish this post at 7:30.

An Unusual Morning

It’s hard to know what to expect each morning. I do know that Kate sleeps later now than she did a year ago, but sometimes she surprises me by getting up early. I also know that she has always been “slow” in the morning. Over the past few years, she has also been a bit groggy when she wakes up. Sometimes she shows no signs of grogginess. That was true yesterday.

Just before 9:00, I saw that she had rolled over in bed and thought she was about to get up. I walked into the bedroom. She was lying in bed with her eyes open running her fingers through her hair. She gave be a smile as I approached the bed where I sat down beside her. We chatted a few minutes. She was in a good mood and seemed very clear-headed but wanted to rest a little longer.

Close to 10:00, I noticed that she was up and looking at the clothes I had put out for her. I went to see if I could help her. She didn’t seem as alert as she was earlier. She was trying to gather her clothes together to take them into the bathroom before showering. I offered to help, but she didn’t want help. She asserted her independence, and I let her.

I went back to the kitchen where I could watch on the video cam. She went into the bathroom and didn’t come out for almost thirty minutes. I thought she must have showered. I went back to her. She hadn’t showered and wanted to go back to bed.

An hour later, I tried to get her up. She wanted to stay in bed. I told her I would come back in thirty minutes, and we could go to lunch. When I returned, she still didn’t want to get up. She told me to go to lunch without her. I said I would feel uncomfortable leaving her. In a soft and gentle voice I said, “I’m ready for lunch and would love to take you. Why don’t you get up and come with me?” She agreed but didn’t want to take a shower. I decided not to push it. I started to help her get dressed, but she wanted to do it herself. I stayed in the room. She asked for my help once or twice.

Once she was up she seemed fine. We didn’t talk much on the way to lunch. I played some music that she likes. The lunch went well. She brought up her mother and commented that she looks like her. I reminded her we have her father’s family movies from the mid-1930s to about 1945 and asked if she would like to look at them when we got home. She liked the idea.

On the way home, she said she wanted to rest. She did just that when we got back. After an hour or so, I asked if she was ready to see the movies. She was, and we spent almost two full hours watching them. She needed help identifying people throughout the entire time. That related both to the quality of the films and her Alzheimer’s. The films were originally shot in 16mm, many in color. They had deteriorated a good bit before they were transferred to VHS tape and more recently to DVD. Her problem was more than that, however. The movement from one person to another made it difficult for her to know what to focus on. When I directed her attention to her mother or the few in which her father appeared, she could never see them. I would stop, rewind, and then stop again when her mother came into view. I am happy to say that she loved every minute of it. I thought that she might get tired. That never happened. She was captivated seeing her grandmothers, aunts and uncles, and cousins as well as her parents. She was especially excited seeing her mother along with the other graduates coming out of the auditorium and shaking hands with the college president after the ceremony. It is also fun to see Kate from birth to about four or five. We have lots of stills, but the movies are really special.

After the movies, we went to dinner at a Thai restaurant. It was unusually busy. Kate was amazingly patient and never expressed the first complaint about the delay in our food. That surprised me because she usually thinks it takes a while for the food to arrive at any restaurant. In fact, she often asks, “Does this place have food?” only minutes after we have arrived or ordered.

It was after 8:00 when we got home, so we didn’t have a lot of time before going to bed. Kate worked on her iPad. She continues to have more problems working her puzzles. That started last night when she had to ask my help just to open (lift the cover) the iPad.

On balance, we had a nice day, but the entire past week she has shown further signs of decline that I would rather not see. Continue reading “An Unusual Morning”

Examples of Kate’s Intuitive Abilities

Kate continues to amaze me with her intuitive abilities. For example, today as we walked from the car to the restaurant for lunch, she said something to which I responded differently than she expected. She was surprised, and I said, “You mean you think I’m predictable?” She laughed and said, “Are you kidding?” I don’t know that predictable is quite the right word, but I do have rather predictable patterns. She regularly makes comments about my personal quirks/behavior, and she is always right even when she can’t remember my name or who I am.

Another incident happened after we returned home. It was preceded by my playing an album of choral music that she likes. Sometimes she likes to sing along with the music though neither of us can remember all the words. One of the songs on the album is “Comin’ through the Rye.” She wanted to sing it, but we couldn’t make out enough of the words. At home, she wanted us to sing it. I told her I would have to look up the lyrics. When I did, I found the original Robert Burns poem on which the song is based. Of course, it had the Scottish expressions. That didn’t work. She asked me to sing something else. Without thinking, I started singing “Amazing Grace.” We sang a few bars before she said, “That doesn’t sound very appropriate.” I felt the same way. It just popped in my head, but it didn’t seem like the most appropriate song for us to sing at that moment. Now, I’m glad I did because it shows how sharp she can be when it comes to her intuitive abilities.