In yesterday’s post, I mentioned a variety of Kate’s behaviors that suggest to me that she is nearing the last stage of the 7-Stage model of the progression of Alzheimer’s. During the night and this morning, we had two other experiences that reinforce my conclusion.
At 3:30, she started to get out of bed. I asked if she wanted to go to the bathroom. She did, and I walked around the bed to assist her. She seemed amazingly alert. She didn’t want my help except to direct her to the bathroom. I asked if I could do something for her. She said, “I just want to get dressed.” I explained that it was early in the morning, and it would be better to go back to bed. She looked puzzled when I suggested that. It wasn’t until after she left the bathroom that I was able to convince her that she should go back to bed. She seemed wide awake and didn’t go back to sleep immediately. As we lay in bed, she said, “Do you do this for everybody?” I didn’t know what she was talking about but said, “Only for you.” She laughed. Then she said, “Who are you?” I said, “I am Richard Creighton, and I’m your husband.” She laughed again and said, “Oh, please.” Then she asked again, “Do you do this for everybody?” That was followed by my answer and her asking “Who are you?” again. This sequence of questions and answers must have been repeated three or four times. Then I told her I was going to sleep.
Shortly after 7:30, I noticed on the video cam that she was moving in bed and went to the bedroom to check on her. When I approached the bed, I said, “Good morning.” Her eyes were open. She looked at me, but she didn’t say anything. It was clear she was having a very different experience than the one that occurred at 3:30. I told her that it looked like something was bothering her and said I would like to help. She still didn’t say anything. I asked if she could tell me what she was concerned about. She didn’t answer. I said, “Is it something that is hard to explain?” She nodded that it was. I repeated that I would like to help her. Then I told her I had been eating breakfast and asked if she would like me to stay with her. She grabbed my hand and nodded. I told her I would get my breakfast and come back to stay with her.
It is now thirty minutes later, and she appears to be asleep. I’ll stay a little while longer and then go back to the kitchen. She can appear to be so different from one time she wakes up to the next. I can’t help wondering what she will be like when she gets up for the day.
She is definitely making more changes now. Another one that I neglected to mention in yesterday’s post is that she is having more trouble expressing herself and stumbles with the pronunciation of a greater number of words than in the past. She sometimes has trouble remembering and pronouncing simple words like “shoe” or “toes.” She often passes it off and says, “You know what I mean.” As you would expect, this is a concern for me. For the past four years, I have observed the effect that speech has had on our relationship with Kate’s friend, Ellen. She suffered a stroke and has never been able to speak so that we can understand everything she says. At one point, we could understand 60-70% of what she said. During our recent visit, that had dropped to 20-25%. The way Kate is beginning to stumble over her words is similar, though less serious, that our experience with Ellen. Difficulty with speech is another of the signs of the later stages of Alzheimer’s. Life continues to change for us and more rapidly now than in the past.