Increasing Dependence

I have often commented on Kate’s dependence on me with respect to finding the bathroom, the full variety of bathroom activities, dressing, and helping with most other activities of daily living (ADLs). That continues, but I have observed other ways in which she is dependent. I’d sum it up by saying they involve my being a security blanket.

I mentioned one of those in my previous post when she didn’t want to go to lunch with the friend I had asked to take her. She has been to lunch with her on a number of occasions before and after her diagnosis, and, yet, she wouldn’t agree to go with her yesterday.

Yesterday she had a similar experience with the sitter. This one was with the sitter who has been with her more than two years. Kate wanted to rest after lunch, just fifteen minutes before Mary arrived. That’s not unusual. When I returned four hours later, she was still resting in her recliner although awake. I asked Mary if she had been there the whole time. She had. Mary said, she has encouraged her to get up, but Kate didn’t want to.

After Mary left, she asked me to show her to the bathroom. As we walked hand in hand, she expressed her feelings more clearly than she usually does. She conveyed that she liked Mary, but she said, “It’s good to be with somebody you really know.” She was relieved that I was home. When we reached the bathroom, I started to leave. Then she asked me to stay in case she needed help with anything. I frequently sense that she is at ease with me even when she doesn’t know my name or our relationship. This time, however, it seemed like she both knew me and that she was very grateful I was home.

As she finished washing her hands, I started toward the kitchen. When she came out of the bathroom, she didn’t see me and called to me. I went back to her. She was so relieved when she saw me that she was almost in tears.

We went to dinner at a nearby pizza place. Before I stepped away from the table to pay for our meal, I told her I was going to pay and would be back. I know she can’t remember, but there was no one ahead of me. In addition, The check out wasn’t too far from our table, and she has never been uneasy before. As I approached the table after paying, I saw that she had a worried look on her face and was looking all around for me. When I walked up to her, she said, “I am looking for my husband.” When she looked more closely, she recognized me. Again, it was an emotional experience for her.

Here is my own interpretation of what’s happening. She is sinking deeper into a state in which she can’t remember anything. That makes her afraid. I am the one who is most often with her and helps her. Of course, we also have a bond that is very strong after fifty-six years of marriage. When you put these things together, it’s not difficult to see why she might feel dependent. This has an advantage with respect to helping her with so many things. She still likes to retain some independence, and I think that is a good thing. Normally, however, she is usually receptive to me help. That makes caring for her much easier.

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