Celebrating Happy Moments in Late-Stage Alzheimer’s

Although Kate’s recovery is much slower than I would like, I rejoice in the Happy Moments we continue to experience. As I’ve said in other posts, our evenings are very special. That’s not to say that they are the only special moments of the day, but they are the most consistent. It’s nice to have a day that ends well.

One of our caregivers was surprised when I told her about that. She wondered what we could be doing that would be so special. I’m sure she asked because Kate often seems so passive when they are here. In addition, when she is talkative, most of the caregivers don’t enter into the conversation. Much of what she says is rooted in delusions. That may be why they tend to ignore her. They don’t know her well, and it isn’t easy for them to live in her world by participating in her delusions. It’s much easier for me to do that.

I believe our good evenings occur because she senses that when it is just the two of us, she can relax. I won’t do anything to disturb her. She almost always recognizes me as someone familiar. That contrasts with her caregivers. She has 5-7 of them and all but one is new since Thanksgiving. She hasn’t developed a strong relationship with them. Apart from the length of time we have been together compared to her relationship with the caregivers, I am also more careful to give her my attention. My impression is that she may feel more alone when she is with her caregivers.

Night before last was an especially good night. We were both propped up in the bed watching a 1993 Barbra Streisand concert. She was in a good mood and enjoyed the concert more than most music videos. We talked about the concert and especially Streisand. It’s important to note that it wasn’t a time when her Alzheimer’s symptoms disappeared. Throughout the concert she repeatedly asked Streisand’s name, but she liked what she saw and heard. She was also very loving. She held my hand and ran her hand across my arm, and we expressed our love for each other. When the concert was over, it was time to call it a night. Before doing so, Kate asked if I could take a picture of us. I take that as another sign that she had a good time.

It’s not unusual for her to be both puzzled and fascinated about her top sheet and bed spread. She often asks me what they are. I explain that they are something to keep her warm during the night. She has another purpose for them. They’ve become a convenient “Fidget Pillow.” For those who are unfamiliar with fidget pillows, they are often pillows with a variety of buttons, ribbons, or other objects. Many people with dementia find them fun to fidget with. They come in a number of other forms than just pillows. I bought one for Kate a few months ago, but she’s never taken to it.

Her top sheet or bedspread has become her personal substitute. She uses two hands about 18 inches apart to pick up either the sheet or bedspread. While holding it, she pulls her hands together to make a “shape.” She continues to make different shapes and asks my help and approval of the work she is doing. We did this together for almost thirty minutes last night. She enjoyed it and admired her own “works of art” while I enjoyed being part of her fun. This is something else in which her caregivers are not likely to be a participant, and I understand how they might think this is just a silly game. For me, however, it’s rewarding to see her enjoy simple things like this. After all, it’s difficult or impossible for her to engage in many of the same things that appeal to us. As they say, “It’s important to live in her world.”

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