Life Continues to Go Well

Three months ago, I reported that Kate had improved during the previous few months. The improvement was not with her Alzheimer’s. She was simply more at ease than she had been. She was awake more. She smiled more, She talked more and responded more frequently to residents and staff. At the time, I suggested that one reason for the change was that she has recovered from the stroke she had in February. I also indicated my belief that she was adapting to the new routine we have established here in our retirement community as well as the attention she receives from residents and staff. A month later, I said she had continued to get along well and wondered how long this would last.

It has now been a year and a year and seven months since our move and nine months since her stroke. I am happy to say that the bubble has not burst. She still requires total care with all of her daily activities; nevertheless, we still enjoy life and each other.

Kate has continued to improve. She is awake more. She has been waking up earlier in the morning, sometimes before 7:00 a.m. She usually goes back to sleep a little while later, but on a few occasions has remained awake all day. She is also less likely to go to sleep shortly after the caregiver leaves at 7:00 each night. The result of these changes is that we have more time together.

When she sleeps until the caregiver arrives at 11:00, I spend my time in the kitchen, living room, or office. When she awakes early, she is still slow to be ready for conversation, but I often get my laptop and sit up in bed beside her. As you would expect, I also accompany that with music we both enjoy. Very little talking occurs. Kate rarely says anything until after noon, but each of us knows the other is right there. We take pleasure in being together.

Our evenings remain the best part of our day. Kate is usually awake another hour or two before she goes to sleep. For several months after her stroke, she was asleep from the time we put her in bed until 11:00 or later the next morning. Sometimes she is talkative. Often she is not. In either case, she seems very much at ease. Relaxing music is also an important part of our time together.

Coincidentally, she was quite talkative last night. We talked for over an hour. As usual, her aphasia greatly affected our conversation. I can’t understand most of what she says although I can sense when she asks a question or other things she tries to communicate. Last night she spoke some words very clearly. She also expresses humor. She did that last night. She would say something and then burst out in laughter. I laughed with her and served as the facilitator to keep the conversation going.

This morning she was awake before 7:00. Not only that, she was talkative. After a while, she relaxed but never went back to sleep. I finished the rest of this post while sitting up in bed beside her. We watched and listened to Khatia Buniatishvili play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 until the caregiver arrived.

It is still impossible to predict how she will be in a particular situation. That seems to be governed by her Alzheimer’s. It’s like a little switch that clicks on and off when you least expect it. The residents and staff seem to accept this pattern with understanding. They are excited when Kate responds with a smile or an audible reply to what they have said, and they accept when she does not do either. In that respect, they are just like me.

I no longer wonder how long this good period will last. I simply enjoy the Happy Moments when they come. I have a sense the good times may continue a while longer along, but I realize that changes can occur at any time. In the meantime, life is good.

The Importance of Family for Kate and Me

During the early years of Kate’s Alzheimer’s, I read an article that dealt with the value of caregivers having “a team.” The author meant a team of professionals, especially medical, legal, and financial. I’ve taken that seriously and extended that to a large percentage of the people I encounter every day. That includes all of our friends and acquaintances as well as servers in restaurants and strangers that offer gestures of kindness. Our team has grown significantly since we moved to a continuing-care retirement community a little over a year and a half ago. Both the residents and staff have played a vital role in our lives.

Although all of our family members live out of state, they, too, have played a key role on our team. Most of our contact involves email and phone calls, but they also visit us.

Initially, Kate didn’t want to tell anyone about her diagnosis. As time passed, I realized the value of knowing about her Alzheimer’s. The moment the doctor gave us the test results, the two of us began to make the most of whatever time remained for us. More than we had done previously, we began to focus on enjoying every minute together. It has paid great dividends and is still doing so twelve years later.

I wanted our children to have the same benefit, so I finally told them. I’ve never regretted it. Telling them was the catalyst that opened the door to something I had long believed was an important parental responsibility – to include children as partners in the last chapters of our lives. From that day to the present, I’ve kept them fully informed of the ups and downs we experience. They have responded in kind. They call frequently to see how we are doing, and their visits give them a personal glimpse of our lives. Had I not told them and kept them up to date, I would have missed out on having the most important members of my team.

I was prompted to comment on their contributions because both of our children paid us a recent visit. It was a particularly nice one. They have been here a number of times and are beginning to know other residents and staff. They have a much clearer appreciation of the benefits we receive here. They supported our move from the moment I mentioned that I was thinking about it. They are also happy and, perhaps, relieved that we live in a place that provides so much support. They don’t have to worry about us as much as they might have if we were still living in our home.

Most importantly, they enjoyed their time with Kate. They were here for several days which gave them an opportunity to observe her special moments and see some of the same qualities they recall from childhood.

We don’t know exactly what challenges lie ahead of us, but I am most appreciative of the support we have from our family. That is one more reason “Living with Alzheimer’s” has been easier for us than it is for many other couples, and I am very grateful.

“Living with Covid” While “Living With Alzheimer’s”

It’s been a little more than two-and-a-half years since Covid invaded our world. We all have stories we can tell about the ways in which that has affected us. Kate and I are no exception.

Although Covid has had a continuous impact on us, there are three specific events that are worth mentioning. The first occurred in mid-March 2020. That’s when restaurants and other businesses began to close. Prior to that, Kate and I had been eating out for lunch and dinner every day for eight or nine years. It made life easier for us than my preparing dinner and gave me more quality time with Kate. Along the way, we also went to Panera almost every morning where Kate got a muffin. In the afternoon, we often went to the café at Barnes & Noble. The greatest benefit of these daily routines was preventing us from being socially isolated. We often saw friends at these locations and became acquainted with servers, managers, and other personnel.

The pandemic brought that to an abrupt end. During the first week or two of the pandemic, Kate also lost her ability to work jigsaw puzzles on her iPad. That was her last remaining self-initiated activity. Daily living suddenly became less exciting for both of us. As Kate’s caregiver, that meant I had to work harder to keep her occupied.

The change in our active routine left her bored much of the time. She started napping more throughout the day. I read to her and played music for her, but that wasn’t enough. I also gave her tours of our house, pointing out pictures and furniture that had some connection to her and her family or to special events in our lives.

In spite of my efforts, there were moments when she wasn’t engaged in any activity. That led to her resting more during the day. We had lost a significant portion of the experiences that had given us so much pleasure before.

Of course, the biggest impact of Covid was that both of us tested positive for the virus just before Thanksgiving in 2020. Kate was in the hospital for eight days without me. The experience was traumatic for her. She was so frightened when she returned home that we were unable to get her out of bed for seven weeks. Before getting Covid, she was already on the verge of losing her mobility. Being in bed for so long pushed her over the edge. She has never walked since.

Our third experience with Covid began almost two weeks ago when I tested positive for the second time even though I had received all of the vaccinations and boosters. It’s been a mild case. My only symptom was a sore throat. The policy here in our retirement community is for people with Covid to stay in their apartments for the first five days. For the next five days, you can leave the apartment if you are wearing a mask, but you can’t eat in any of the campus venues.

The social isolation we experienced was reminiscent of the early days of Covid when we could no longer go out to eat. This appears to have had a greater impact on me than on Kate. I miss the contact with other residents and staff. They have played a major role in our lives since we moved here a year and eight months ago. I miss that and will be eager to get back to our normal routine starting today. That’s just in time for a visit from our daughter and son this weekend. We’ll have much to celebrate.

My biggest concern has been the possibility of Kate’s getting the virus. By now, it looks like she has escaped. The biggest and best surprise is that she had four or five outstanding days while we were restricted to our apartment. Not surprisingly, much of that involved music. In addition, however, she has been talking more. That has been especially noticeable with two of her caregivers. One of those is our primary caregiver with whom she feels quite comfortable.

On Sunday, one of our weekend caregivers took an extended amount of time to go through one of Sarah’s family photobooks with her. Kate didn’t seem to notice the photos, but the caregiver told her about the information explaining them. Kate not only took an interest, but she also began to talk to the caregiver. The next thing I knew they were having a semblance of a normal conversation. It wasn’t completely normal because much of what Kate said was impossible to understand. This was especially striking to me because Kate has never shown any special connection or feeling for either of our weekend caregivers.

The story doesn’t end there. When it was time for dinner the conversation ended. Kate took the caregiver’s hand and kissed it. Then after getting Kate into bed, the caregiver told her goodbye. I said, “Wasn’t it nice to have Malia with us today?” Kate looked up at her and said, “Thank you.”

Last night, we had a wonderful time together. Like any other night, we watched YouTube music videos, but there was a difference. Kate has never been as enthusiastic about symphonic music as I have, but last night I played Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 back-to-back. She loved both works, and I was thrilled.

As the music played, I did two things that I believe facilitated her response. First, I explained what was happening as the orchestra moved from one movement to another. For example, at the last portion of both symphonies, I let her know that the music was going through a buildup to the grand finale when the tempo would increase and the music would be much louder. Second, in several portions of the music, I emphasized the rhythm by audibly saying things like “bump da da bump da da bump, bump, bump.” At the same time, I held her hand and moved her arm back and forth. She was fully engaged and laughing. I hope we’ll be able to repeat our performance again soon.

Thus, I am coming to the end of our quarantine with a good feeling that Kate appears to have missed Covid, and she has had an extraordinary series of moments that have been very special to both of us. Life is good, and I am grateful.

Living with Covid Again

For the most part, Kate and I haven’t experienced many of the health problems that other seniors face, but we are far from being completely free. Clearly, the one with the greatest impact was her diagnosis in 2011. Then, she and I had Covid in 2020 just before the first vaccination came out.  The trauma of her hospital experience itself has had a lasting impact. Eight months ago, she also had a stroke. It was a mild one but a real one, not a TIA. That, too, has lasting consequences.

Now, we are dealing with Covid again. It all began last week when I had lunch with another resident. We were together for almost two hours. Saturday evening, I received a message that he had tested positive for Covid. At the time, I was feeling fine, but I awoke at 3:00 am Sunday morning with a sore throat. I remembered that when I had Covid the previous time, my only symptom was a sore throat. I went to the kitchen and used our last remaining Covid test kit. The test result was negative.

I was far from being confident I had avoided the virus, so the next day I bought several new kits. I took another test as soon as I got home. Once again, the test was negative. I took another test the next morning. It was also negative.

That brings me to Tuesday morning when I took my fourth test. It was positive. So now, we are quarantined at least through tomorrow if I no longer test positive. That also assumes Kate doesn’t get it, and I think that will be hard to prevent.

This experience is a reminder of the benefits of our move to a continuing care retirement community a year and a half ago. They have a procedure for things like this and took action immediately. The dining room will deliver all our meals. They also provided a supply of PPE gear for our caregiver. In the meantime, we are “Living with Covid” in our apartment. Several residents have volunteered to run errands for me. I took one of them up on that yesterday afternoon.

I’m getting better each day. My symptoms are minor. In addition to my sore throat, I have a stuffy nose and experience a few aches in my joints. My biggest concern relates to passing the virus along to Kate. I wear a mask in our apartment, wash my hands regularly, and wear gloves much of the time, especially when I am handling things that Kate might touch.

Our primary caregiver has been very helpful. She is willing to come each day. She also brought us some disinfectant wipes that I use for various places I frequently touch, like refrigerator doors, handles on cabinets, and counters. Kate can’t touch any of them, but the caregiver can. I still think it’s doubtful that I can prevent Kate’s getting the virus, but we will try. I’ll let you know what happens.

A Brief Update

Once again, I find that I am behind on another blog post. On top of my usual excuses is that I’ve had computer problems that were finally solved yesterday. During the past two weeks, my computer wouldn’t connect to our Wi-Fi network or any other one. In the meantime, I’ve been occupied with Kate (many good moments) and other personal issues like an infection in one of my toes and pain on the right side of my other foot. Those involved several doctor’s visits that have solved most of the problems.

The best news is that Kate’s improvement has continued over the past few months. That has given us more quality time together which has boosted my spirits greatly. I’ve been particularly pleased that our evenings are once again very special times. Our love for each other is more consistently evident now than in quite a long time.

I continue to be pleased with our new primary caregiver (8 hours daily from Monday through Friday). I feel less stressed now than I did a few months ago, and my blood pressure is staying at normal levels. Prior to replacing the previous primary caregiver, my blood pressure was bouncing periodically to higher levels than those to which I had been accustomed.

I feel the need to stress again that I don’t mean that her Alzheimer’s is any better than before, only that she is more comfortable and at ease, than she had been since her hospitalization with Covid almost two years ago in November 2020. That, our move a few months later, and then a stroke were all significant events that brought about dramatic changes in our lives. It hasn’t been easy. Some of those changes have been permanent, for example, Kate now requires total care with all her ADLs (activities of daily living). Our world is much smaller now; however, we continued to enjoy life and each other. And I am grateful.

More Happy Moments


Two months ago this week, I reported on the progress Kate has made over the past few months. I noted the improvement was not with her Alzheimer’s, but she has more cheerful moments and is talking more than she has since her stroke six months ago. Much of what she says is not intelligible; however, she responds in a way that conveys she knows what we say or ask. Overall, she seems to be more at ease.

Despite my encouraging report, I was guarded about the future. Would this continue? If not, how long would it last? I still don’t have answers to these questions, but she has continued to amaze the caregivers and me as well as the residents and staff we see on a daily basis.

Last week, her caregiver and I were stunned by a conversation she had with Alicia, a member of the food staff. She’s a young woman who took an interest in Kate more than six months ago. She is a person of great warmth who leans over and speaks to Kate in a gentle voice. Kate responded well to her in their first contacts together.

A week ago Saturday afternoon while we were having our ice cream, she stopped to say hello on her way to the dining room. Until then, Kate had been rather quiet. She wasn’t unhappy but not cheerful and not ready for conversation. When Alicia put her hand on Kate’s shoulder and spoke to her, Kate smiled and responded audibly. It was striking how quickly her mood changed. For the next 5-10 minutes they engaged in a conversation in which Kate was almost an equal partner.

Since she had to report to the dining room for the evening shift, Alicia couldn’t stay long. As it turned out, she was our server that evening. That provided additional opportunities for them to talk. I took several short videos of their conversation. Kate and I frequently have conversations like that. Sometimes our children have the same experience. A few weeks ago when my brother and his family paid us a visit, Kate responded similarly to my brother’s wife. There are also periodic occasions when she makes a brief response to a staff member or resident; however, this was the first time I had seen Kate engage in a conversation with someone outside our family. She was perfectly at ease.

It was only three or four years ago that I learned about the distinction between rational and intuitive thought/abilities and their significance with respect to dementia. My thanks to Judy Cornish (The Dementia Handbook and Dementia with Dignity) for introducing me to this distinction. The experience with Kate and Alicia was a dramatic example of how well Kate’s intuitive ability works even though her rational abilities are virtually gone.

It also reinforces my belief that the improvement she has experienced in recent months relates to her intuitive abilities. Kate may not know what day or year it is, people’s names, or where she is, but her ability to sense the world around her enables her to experience pleasure.

Our daily routine has opened the door to other people who relate to her as a person, not a person with dementia. She has the same experience at home with the caregiver and me. Together, these things must be making a difference how she feels and responds, but how long will it last? I don’t know. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I’ll continue to take pleasure in each moment we have together.

An “Awesome” Day

For quite some time Kate has followed a morning routine that involves her sleeping until 10:30 or 11:00. Once in a while, she breaks this routine. She is awake earlier than usual, sometimes as early as 6:00. When this happens, she often sleeps off and on until we get her up at 11:00; however, in recent weeks, she has remained awake. I gladly put aside other things I had intended to do so that I can spend that time with her. They are very pleasant times for us, but she is rarely talkative. Typically, she doesn’t say a word until after lunch. Yesterday was not a routine day.

She was awake about 8:00. Not only that, she was cheerful and talkative. Despite her aphasia, she spoke more words that I (or anyone else) could understand than I have heard from her in a long time. For a while, I stood at her bedside talking with her and making 10 short videos. I followed that by getting in bed beside her. We talked and talked. I stayed with her until she closed her eyes around 10:30.

She was asleep when the caregiver arrived at 11:00, but we got her up for lunch. She continued to be in good spirits. I went out for lunch and a haircut. When I arrived home, she was still cheerful and responded as well as her aphasia would permit. She was unusually happy while we were out for ice cream and dinner and also said a few words to people who spoke to her.

We closed the day with a very nice evening together. We talked intermittently while we watched YouTube music videos. I should add that on other days when she has been talkative, she has seemed hyper, but yesterday she spoke naturally except for her aphasia. I can’t recall a day when she was so consistently cheerful and at ease. It was truly an “awesome” day.

Kate is Improving. What’s Going On?

From the accounts of other caregivers and my personal experience with Kate, I am well aware that people with Alzheimer’s can change from day to day and even from moment to moment, but something different has happened with Kate in the past several months.

In a number of ways, she is better than she was a year ago. Her improvement is something I didn’t expect. She doesn’t sleep as much. She’s more cooperative when we perform our daily responsibilities (dressing and undressing her as well as transferring her in a lift from her bed to her recliner or wheelchair and back again). The other day she laughed as we picked her up from her bed. It was almost like she was enjoying a ride in an amusement park. She has even displayed some learning as we go through the various steps – for example, where to put her hands. She is also talking a little more even though most of what she says is unintelligible. She is more likely to respond to staff and residents when they speak to her. Her response is typically a smile or a facial expression, but sometimes she speaks in short phrases that are quite clear.

In addition, she conveys by her facial expressions and audible reactions that she clearly understands what we saying. The other day I told the caregiver about recent research that involved bringing dead pigs to “life.” Very quickly, she said, “Oh, God,” something I had never heard her say before.

Her stroke in February had an immediate impact on our evenings together. For weeks, she went to sleep shortly after the caregiver left. That was a low blow for me because that had been the best time of the day for us. It was a time when we had no further obligations and could simply focus on being together.

Now, she is sometimes awake one to three hours after the caregiver leaves. Our evenings are once again among the best parts of our day. I say “among” because she has good moments at other times of the day as well, particularly during the afternoon. She has never been a morning person, and she continues to sleep or rest until 11:00 when the caregiver and I get her up for the day. She rarely says a word until after lunch.

I’ve wondered why these changes have happened and see several possible explanations. The first seems obvious. She is simply recovering from her stroke. She was mostly comatose the first few days following the stroke. Since then, she has gradually reverted to a pattern of sleep that was typical before then.

She hasn’t made a complete recovery, however. Her aphasia hasn’t improved significantly nor has the damage to her right leg that she is unable to straighten. It is always bent at various degrees. In other ways, the effects of the stroke seem to be a thing of the past.

Apart from her recovery from the stroke, I believe there are two other things that may account for her recent improvement. Two major events disrupted our lives during the past year and a half. First, we both had Covid just before Thanksgiving in 2020. Kate was hospitalized for eight days. Five months later, we moved to a continuing care (life plan) retirement community. Although Kate has never shown any signs that she was aware of either of these; our daily lives changed significantly as a result of both. Now, we’ve established a new routine.

We get her up shortly after the caregiver arrives at 11:00. She eats her lunch between 11:45 and 12:30. During that time, I go out for lunch and run errands. I usually return before 3:00. That’s when we prepare for our afternoon visit to the café where Kate gets ice cream. We are there almost an hour before moving to the dining room for dinner.

Our afternoon ice cream and our dinner in the dining room are highlights of our day. They are not simply opportunities to eat. They are times when we connect with other residents and staff. That’s important for both of us. Kate receives special attention, something that many people at this stage of dementia don’t experience. When people approach us, they invariably speak to her first. They often comment about her hair and what she is wearing. When she smiles (something she does more often now), they respond with pleasure in much the same way that I do. I love seeing that and have to believe that Kate does as well.

There is one other thing that may account for these changes. We changed our primary caregiver in June. The new person is a very caring person who is with us eight hours a day Monday through Friday. Kate has developed a feeling for the new person that she hasn’t had for anyone else.

When you combine the regular attention of the caregiver who is with her eight hours a day, the personal contact she gets with other residents and staff, and the time I spend with her, she receives a lot more attention than she did before. I believe that establishing a new routine and a new caregiver plays an important role in why she seems more at ease now.

I would like to believe that her Alzheimer’s has improved, but, in that respect, she is much the same. Her memory and other rational abilities are no better than they were before; however, her intuitive ability to experience the world around her is working quite well. She doesn’t know the names of the music she hears, but she enjoys it; she doesn’t know the names of the foods she eats, but she enjoys her meals; she laughs at things she thinks are funny, and she appreciates being recognized by people around her. Our current routine provides all of these, and Kate is able to experience them intuitively even if she can’t tell you where she is, the names of the people she is around, or do many of the things she used to do. All of these things make me believe she is more at ease now because her daily life provides her with the kind of experiences she can enjoy through her intuitive ability.

Addendum

I had written this post before my brother and his wife as well as our nephew and his wife arrived for a brief visit yesterday afternoon. Prior to their arrival, I wondered if they would be able to see the Kate that I described in this post. I can’t tell you how elated I was that they caught her on a very special day. She smiled a lot and also responded to their comments and questions. We could clearly understand some of the things she said. She even said goodbye to them when they left. The night before, my brother’s wife asked if I thought Kate could understand what people say to her. I told her I had seen plenty of evidence that she can. Yesterday, she got a first-hand observation of that. It was a memorable experience for all of us.

The Importance of Family Relationships

I’m grateful for the many ways in which “Living with Alzheimer’s” has been easier for us than it is for many others. One of those that I don’t often talk about is our family relationships. Two weeks ago, our son, Kevin, came for a visit which prompts me to correct that.

In our initial conversations after her diagnosis, Kate and I discussed when we should tell our children and our friends. She was firm in her desire not to tell anyone until much later. For some time, I felt that knowing the diagnosis led me to make the most of the remaining quality time we would have. I still believe that was the most important benefit of getting the diagnosis. Prior to that, we had a strong relationship. We enjoyed life and each other, but at that moment, I knew our lives were about to change radically. Every moment we had together became precious. I wanted our children to have the same experience. On the third anniversary of her diagnosis (January 21, 2014), I arranged a conference call with Jesse and Kevin to break the news.

As I had hoped, they have taken advantage of that knowledge. They’ve been able to follow the progression of Kate’s dementia and enjoy many special moments with her. Although they both live out of state, they have kept up with frequent phone calls and periodic visits. In addition, I’ve been able to share other details of our lives via this blog.

I found the benefits were not only for them but for Kate and me as well. It was still early in our journey. My stress was minimal. I didn’t need much support. With the passage of time, Kate has declined, and the responsibilities as her caregiver have introduced significantly more stress. That has made the relationship with our children even more important.

I’ve read about other families’ experiences with Alzheimer’s and the problems that can also arise. It’s not unusual to hear about conflicts that occur when aging parents and their children feel differently about things like driving, whether to engage outside help or move to a place where they have better access to care for existing or potential health issues. Even before Kate’s diagnosis, I wanted our children to be partners in this last stage of our lives. Letting them know about Kate was an important step in that direction.

Six years later, I feel that was definitely the right decision. Their calls and visits have brought us closer together. They are well-informed of the ups and downs in our lives. They know about any health issues that arise. They know the strengths and weaknesses of our various caregivers and how in-home care is working out. When I thought it was time to make a move to a continuing care retirement community (or life plan community), I let them know what I was thinking and asked for their thoughts.

Jesse and Kevin also feel free to ask me questions about things I may not have mentioned. On a recent phone call, Jesse asked if I had thought about whether I would move or stay in our current place after Kate’s death. I told her that I had and would plan to remain here. I explained that I wouldn’t want to buy another house nor would I want to leave the support I find here.

While Kevin was here, he asked if I had noticed any changes in my driving as I had aged. I mentioned that I am more easily distracted than in the past. I have to be more careful when I use the controls for the audio system and temperature. When I don’t, it is easy for me to drift to the right or left. I also mentioned my only interest in getting a new car would be to have the new safety features like the blind spot alert. He saw an example of that when I started to change lanes and the driver of a car about to pass us honked his horn.

They have been very supportive of my role as caregiver for their mother, and I have been receptive to their thoughts. As a gerontologist, Kevin has a special interest. That has also led to my asking him questions about his own perspective based on his professional experience with other seniors. Thus far, we haven’t had any conflicts, and I don’t expect any because of the nature of our relationship.

Kevin’s recent visit and Jesse’s visit a few weeks before that came at a time of transition from one caregiver to another. They had an opportunity to see firsthand how things were going. My stress is greater now. Along with that, my blood pressure has been somewhat higher than usual. I’ve found myself getting behind on many things. Sometimes I fail to look at my calendar. That leads to missing appointments. I don’t respond as quickly to emails; and if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I don’t post as frequently. In fact, I began this post a couple of days after Keven left. That was almost two weeks ago.

During Kevin’s visit, I relaxed more. He and I went out for lunch several times and had good conversations. In a way, it was like taking a vacation. Since then, I’ve felt more at ease, and my blood pressure has been normal. That seems to confirm my belief that stress was affecting me. It also boosts my confidence that I can find ways to minimize its impact.

The impact of our family goes beyond our relationship with our children. Kate and I both have brothers and spouses that live out of state. Because of that and the pandemic, we have had less personal contact, but they stay in touch by phone and have been very supportive.

Interpersonal relationships with family, friends, colleagues and even strangers have always been important to me, but the support from our family has been especially significant. I am grateful.

Covid Still Affects Our Lives

During the early stages of the pandemic, people talked about getting back to normal. By now, all of us are getting accustomed to making further adjustments to our lifestyle. That may be especially true for those us living in retirement communities. Kate and I have enjoyed the many benefits of community living, but the potential for the spread of Covid results in quite a few changes over time. Significant changes were in effect before our move fourteen months ago. They have continued off and on since then. The latest was last week.

For a year, menu service had been discontinued and replaced with a buffet. As the threat of infection had decreased, the rules had loosened. One of the most welcomed changes was returning to menu service in the dining room. We were informed last Thursday that our regular menu had been temporarily discontinued and replaced once again with a daily buffet. The decision was based on an increase in positive tests for residents and the food service staff.

Kate and I had Covid two weeks before Thanksgiving in 2020. Since that time, we have had our vaccinations and boosters and avoided any potential infections. This didn’t prevent our being among those affected. No, we didn’t test positive, but we were in contact with a member of the food service staff who did. As a result, we were “semi-quarantined.” That meant that we could go outside our apartment, but we had to wear a mask. All large-group activities were canceled. More significantly, we couldn’t eat in any of the dining facilities. We returned to carry-out meals.

In the scheme of things, this was a minor change, but our primary social engagement is in the afternoon when we get ice cream and have our evening meal in the dining room. The policy here is that one must remain as isolated as possible for a period of ten days after contact with someone who tests positive. As it turned out, we didn’t learn about the contact until four days later. That meant we had a shorter period of isolation and are now back to our regular routine except that, like all residents, we will continue to have buffet meals rather than ordering off the menu. That isn’t a problem for us. The meals are generally good. The downside is that the food is not as hot as it is when we order from a menu.

We weren’t cooped up for long. After eight days, we were still symptom-free. And we reinstated our routine afternoon trip for ice cream as well as evening meal in the dining room. The temporary removal from social engagement made me more appreciative of the benefits we have of living in a community like this. In addition, the benefits are not just for Kate, but for me as well, probably more so.