Yesterday’s visit with the Greeleys turned out well though Kate had a rough start first thing in the morning. Morning confusion is becoming more common now. That is especially understandable when she wakes up in a strange place.
As usual, I had gotten up a good while before she awoke about 8:30. She said, “Hey.” I walked over to the bed, and she said, “Who are you?” I asked if I looked familiar to her. She said I did. I gave her my name and told her I am her husband. She said, “Who am I?” When I told her, she wanted to know where she was and then why we were there. I explained about our coming to Nashville to see the Jan and Scott. She said, “Who?” I gave her the background to our friendship and specifically that she and Scott had been friends her entire life. Nothing rang a bell. I didn’t say anything about our having been with them the previous afternoon or having dinner with them. I relied on something I frequently tell her when we are at home. “It’s early in the morning. Sometimes you are confused when you wake up, especially when you are in a strange place. Once you are up you’ll feel better.” Then I told her it was still early and asked if she would like to get up or rest a little longer. She wanted to rest. I told her I would be just across the room at the desk and that I wouldn’t leave her. She said, “Good.” She woke up again two hours later. As she did earlier, she asked where she was and then why we were there. I went through the same explanation as I had done previously.
We checked out of our room in time to meet the Greeleys at our hotel for lunch. I didn’t want Kate to have to walk to the car and back, so I kept our suitcase and computer case with us until they arrived. I made a mistake when Jan and Scott walked in. I should have said, “Look Kate, it’s Jan and Scott Greeley.” Instead I greeted them as I always have. That would have worked in the past, but this time Kate needed me to remind her of their names and that we were having lunch together. Of course, I had told Jan before they arrived, but she had forgotten. When I realized, I called them by name, and Jan gave her name. Then I suggested that I take our things to the car and for the group to wait a moment. That is when Kate got up and said, “I’ll go with him.” That prompted Scott to say, “You don’t have that much. Why don’t we just take them with us to our table.” That worked well.
The lunch also went well. It was a buffet, and Kate and Scott remained at the table while Jan and I got our food. I also brought Kate’s to her. Even though it was not crowded, it was much easier than her doing it herself. Kate accepts this very naturally. This was not one of those times for independence.
As happens so often now, Kate asked that we repeat ourselves a number of times. This is commonplace. It is difficult for her to follow conversations. Even when we are alone, she asks me to speak more slowly. Apart from that and the insecurity she showed when I was about to leave her to put our things in the car, she enjoyed herself as did the rest of us.
Prior to the trip, Scott and I had exchanged emails in which he and I mentioned continuing care retirement communities. He told me that they were looking at one, and I told him about the commitment I had made to one in Knoxville. After lunch, I asked if he and Jan could drive us by the CCRC he had mentioned in his message. I might have expected that it would mean little to Kate, but it turned out to be a good thing. We not only drove around the campus, but we went into the main building. Kate loved the beauty of the place and took special note of the flowers both inside and outside. As I reflect on it, this was the kind of experience in which she can enjoy herself in the company of others without any pressure at all. She was free to walk around on her own and take in things without our pointing them out. It took away all the pressure that conversation represents for her. It may seem strange, but it reminds me of trips to the zoo. She enjoys looking around at things of beauty or special interest to her.
When we left for home, she mentioned how much she had enjoyed the Greeleys. She always has. I knew she would this time. It just took a little longer to feel at ease. I take that as another sign of the progression of her Alzheimer’s.
After dinner last night, we spent some time in the family room looking at the “Big Sister” album that Kate’s brother Ken had made for her a year ago. That has become far more important to her than he could ever imagine. She is enthralled by the cover picture of the two of them. She spends more time with that particular photo book more than any of the others. Last night, she went through it twice with me. I left to take a shower, and she started on it a third time. After my shower, she was still looking at it. I told her it was getting time for us to get ready for bed. She asked if she could take it with her. She held it in her arms and said, “I love it.” She was tired, however, and didn’t look at it again. She got ready and got in bed. She had had a full day and, except for her confusion in the morning, enjoyed every minute.