Family: Another Valuable Tool in My Caregiver’s Toolbox

During the early years after Kate’s diagnosis, I honored her desire not to tell anyone right away. That included our family, but I found that getting the diagnosis had made me focus my attention on making the most of our time together. I wanted our daughter and son, then in their 40s, to have the same opportunity, so I arranged a phone call to fill them in. That turned out to be a wise decision. They’ve played a significant role as members of “Our Team” of supporters, and have helped make our lives happy.

Although both of them live out of state, they are regularly in touch with us by phone and visit us several times a year. Our son is a certified care manager who consults families regarding a broad range of decisions often faced by seniors. That has been especially beneficial to me as Kate’s primary caregiver.

They made their most recent visit to dovetail with Father’s Day and my birthday. Two days later, our daughter’s husband, their twin sons, and the girlfriend of one of the twins joined them. At this stage of Kate’s Alzheimer’s, family moments together are very special. This one was no exception. It served as a reminder that family relationships play a valuable role at every stage of life. I am grateful for what that has meant to us.

Celebrating our Anniversary

Kate and I celebrated our sixty-first anniversary this past Friday. We celebrated twice this year. The first was the previous Sunday when I arranged for a van to take us to the restaurant at which we had eaten almost every Sunday for almost ten years before the pandemic closed the restaurants. We took a van because getting Kate in and out of a car is too difficult. A “wheelchair-accessible van” enables us to roll her in and out of the van while she is in her wheelchair.

I continue to eat there for lunch every Sunday, but I chose to take Kate in the afternoon when the restaurant is much quieter. We had a great meal, and the staff was unusually attentive. This was the first time they had seen Kate since the Fall of 2020 before we both had Covid. Since that time Kate has been wheelchair-bound.

I can’t predict how Kate will respond in situations like this. As always, I hoped that she would be cheerful. That didn’t work out. We had a bumpy ride to the restaurant. That frightened her, and she also slipped down in her wheelchair which made her a bit uncomfortable. Her best moment occurred when one of the servers dropped by to say hello. She had a big smile, and Kate responded with one just as big. That was a great start, but that was the last sign of cheerfulness we saw while we were at the restaurant; nevertheless, we enjoyed our meal. I was glad we had made the effort to be there.

Our second celebration occurred on Friday, the day of our anniversary. We didn’t get off to a good start. Kate awoke with a scream at 3:30 am. Whatever bothered her was over quickly, but she was awake until about 6:30. She was in a talkative mood, so I decided to skip exercise that day. I felt the conversation with her was an anniversary gift. We talked a long time before she fell asleep, and I got up.

Several times during the morning, she had several other episodes of whatever disturbed her earlier that morning. She wasn’t in a good mood when the caregiver arrived; however, her mood changed while we were getting her up. She smiled and even spoke a little while we were dressing her.

When I returned from lunch, she was glad to see me. She was smiling and talkative. We talked for almost an hour. She was doing so well that I suggested that the caregiver and I take Kate out for her ice cream earlier than usual. That gave us a little extra time to enjoy the beautiful day outside before going to dinner.

We finished our day with filet mignon in the dining room and a nice evening at home a great way to celebrate our anniversary.