Morning Confusion Continues

I was just finishing up yesterday’s blog post when I heard Kate call my name. I started for the bedroom when I heard her call again. She didn’t smile when I entered the room, but she was relieved to see me. She was experiencing a milder anxiety attack than she had a couple of days ago. She didn’t appear to be as frightened, simply confused. It was another case of her memory’s being almost blank. She felt insecure and kept expressing that she felt better that I was with her. Despite her calling me by name, she didn’t remember either my name or our relationship. She clearly felt secure with me. She specifically commented that my tone of voice made her feel better and said she knew that I wouldn’t let anything happen to her.

I brought the “Big Sister” album to her. She recognized herself in the picture on the cover; however, I ran into a problem when I tried to go through the book with her. She was lying flat on the bed with her head on a pillow. It was awkward holding the book so that she could easily see the pictures. We decided to look at it later.

Then I started talking about her family. Although she was interested, it was too much information for her. As I had done the past two mornings, I played music for her. We turned our attention to it. The impact yesterday was greater than I have seen before. They were all choral pieces with beautiful harmony and soothing melodies. She was particularly moved by “Danny Boy,” “Deep River,” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.” Most of the time she held my hand or put her hand on my arm. A few times she asked me not to talk. She just wanted to listen to the music. At one point she shed a few tears. It was a very tender moment for both of us.

It was also a sad moment. She was still confused though uplifted by the music. She continues to have a sense that she is not all right. I think back to the times when I have heard people say, “At least she doesn’t know.” Kate may not know the name for it, but she knows she has a problem. How long will that last?

I stayed with her for over an hour. She was feeling better. I asked if she would like to go to the bathroom. She got up easily and took a shower. Most of the time, she didn’t know my name or our relationship, but she was quite comfortable with my helping her with toileting, showering, and dressing.

She was ready early enough for me to take her to Panera for a muffin before the sitter came at noon. Kate didn’t express any concern when Cindy arrived and I left for the Y. When I got home, they weren’t there. Kate hadn’t wanted any lunch until 3:00, so they had gone out for lunch. I am sure that had something to do with her having had a muffin not too long before Cindy arrived. I also believe Cindy is more passive with her than I would like. I think another sitter might have said, “I’m hungry. Let’s go get some lunch.” Kate might have responded more positively to that.

Kate may not have rested before they went to lunch because she was tired when they got back. I let her rest for an hour and a half before going to dinner. She didn’t sleep during that time. She just relaxed while listening to the music I played for her. She was ready for bed earlier than usual but was awake when I got in bed a couple of hours later.

During the night, she apparently had a dream. She was kicking her feet. I put my arm around her, and started to comfort her. She misinterpreted me and said, “No” in a very stern voice. Then she grabbed my hand and squeezed it very hard and held it for several minutes before she relaxed and dropped it. I don’t think she had been awake at all.

There is a lot going on in her brain right now. I just wish I could fully understand it.

Confusion and Mood Control

When I woke Kate yesterday, she was confused about me. She was very suspicious of me. This was unlike the day before when she didn’t recognize me as her husband from 5:00 until I went to bed last night. At least she seemed comfortable with me. That wasn’t true yesterday morning. It was somewhat awkward for her because she was completely dependent on me to get her to the bathroom and ready for the day.

I decided not to push her or try to explain anything. I just helped her get ready. When she was dressed, I told her I wanted to show her something. She followed me into the hallway off our bedroom where we have several pictures of her family. We stopped at the first one. I said, “This is your grandmother Franklin.” She smiled, and her eyes lit up.” I told her that was her father’s mother and there was something special about her that she would like to know. I said, “She was the first member of your family to go to TCU.” (a bigger smile) Then I told her we have a grandson who is the 60th member of her family to attend TCU, and his sister will join him in the fall. She was coming around.

The next picture is one of her mother that must have been taken in her late teens. It’s a beautiful photo and one of my favorites. I explained that she was her mother. It was no surprise that Kate was drawn to her smile and commented on how beautiful she was. We continued down the hallway and looked at pictures of her grandfather as well as her father. By that time her mood had changed dramatically. I don’t mean to suggest that she now understood that I was her husband, only that she was happy.

From that point we went into the family room where I showed her several other family pictures. As usual, she also admired the plants on the patio. Then I took her into the kitchen for her morning meds, and we left for lunch. I played music that I know she likes all the way to the restaurant.

When we returned home, I asked if she would like to work puzzles on her iPad or look at some of her family photo books. She noticed an album of her father’s family and picked it up. I asked if she would like me to help her with it. She said no. I went to the kitchen work on my computer. An hour later, she wanted to rest and spent the next two hours lying on the sofa. I brought my laptop into the room so that I could sit with her. I don’t think she ever went to sleep. After a while, I asked if we might look at family pictures together. She said she would but “later.” She said she just wanted to relax. I let her do that another half hour before going to dinner.

After dinner, she picked up a coloring book I bought for her about two weeks ago. She hadn’t shown any interest in it before. This time she opened it and spent at least forty-five minutes going through it. It is a big book – 200 pages. I was surprised she could spend that much time looking at it. She didn’t even take the crayons out of the box. When I suggested that we go back to the bedroom, she said she just wanted to finish the last few pages. I told her that would be fine. I was very curious as to what she was doing. There is nothing to read, only cartoon-like figures and shapes to color. When I looked over her shoulder, I saw that she was meticulously going through each page, touching each drawing or part of a figure on each page. She was pushing them the way she touches the screen of the iPad. Of course, nothing would happen, and she moved to the next one. I am still puzzled that she went through the entire book that way. She never appeared to be frustrated. Looking at her from across the room, it appeared that she was enjoying herself. It’s just one other thing that puzzles me.

She wanted to do something else once we went to the bedroom. She didn’t want to work on her iPad or look at photo books. She said she would like to read something. I gave her the three-ring binder that I call her “Memory Book.” It contains a variety of information about her and her family as well as our courtship and marriage. When I gave it to her, she didn’t know what to do with it. I explained that it was information about her life and that she could just read through it. She still didn’t understand. I read the initial information and then turned it over to her. She started touching selected words on the page just the way she had done with the coloring book earlier. When I explained that the book was different than her iPad, that touching the words would not take her to something else, she closed the book. I decided it was best not to push it.

She was already in bed. I told her I would put on some YouTube videos and pulled up a mix of videos of The Three Tenors, Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, and Andre Rieu. She listened to the music for over an hour while lying in bed. She was very happy, just another example of the power of music.

We experienced only one other hiccup before going to sleep. When I got into the bed, I frightened her. She apparently had forgotten I was there. When I spoke, she realized who it was and was relieved.

As you can tell, there is a lot going on in our lives right now. Apart from these moments, we had a good day. We enjoyed good moments together, and, except for frightening her, the day ended on a high note. What is encouraging is that even with her moments of confusion and feeling down, I still find it possible to find a way to bring her back. I hope that is something that will endure for a while longer.

My Experiment with Another Movie

For most of our marriage, especially before having children and after they left home, Kate and I have enjoyed movies. It was natural to include them among the variety of priorities on which we focused after her diagnosis. We found the best selection of movies at a local arts theater and have been members for many years. As Kate’s Alzheimer’s progressed, she was no longer able to follow a plot. At first, I thought that might be the end of movies for us. I discovered, however, that she could still enjoy some of them without understanding the plot at all. I was surprised but soon recognized what is obvious that there is more to a movie than a plot. Movies grab their audiences with a host of emotions that we experience directly by our senses of sight and hearing. We can enjoy the appeal of the characters, the beauty of the scenery, visible forms of humor, and music.

For Kate, enjoyment was heavily influenced by the nature of the characters and the seriousness or importance of the film’s focus. She liked upbeat movies with likeable characters. On the other hand, she liked more serious films like Darkest Hour. In that case, she was able to recognize the seriousness of war and its impact on the world. At the time, she also recognized the importance of Churchill. The whole tone of the movie appealed to her.

The last two movies that appealed to her were documentaries, RBG and Won’t You Be My Neighbor. We saw RBG twice and Neighbor four times. She had a strong positive feeling for each of them even though she didn’t remember them before the movies. In addition, she could sense they had led lives that had great impact.

Our moving going had already tapered off before those films. After that, I tried one or two movies without any success. She was confused and bored. I have been looking for what I thought would be the “right” movie since then. That occurred two weeks ago when I learned Pavarotti was playing. Kate has been especially drawn to opera in recent years. I decided to give it a try yesterday afternoon.

While we were at lunch, I told Kate that we would be going to a movie. I told her it was a documentary of Pavarotti. She didn’t remember him even when I told her a little about him. For the most part I was not surprised. She is forgetting most names. Why not Pavarotti’s? On the other hand, he does come up periodically in our conversation, especially in connection with some of the YouTube videos we watch in the evening. We have watched a few of his solo performances as well as those with The Three Tenors. I guess I had hoped that she might recognize the name. If she had, I would have taken that as a sign that she might have an interest in the movie. That didn’t happen.

Once the movie began, I was very optimistic. I could tell she was interested. There were a number of emotional moments during the film when she and I were both moved by the music. She held my hand and squeezed it tightly. She enjoyed his singing, but there were also times when she said, “You’re ‘gonna’ have to help me with this. I don’t understand.” She repeated that when the movie ended. Instead of getting up to leave, I talked with her briefly. I asked if she had liked it. She said, “I don’t know. I didn’t understand it.” I suggested that the important part was that she liked the music. That didn’t make any sense to her either. I found this interesting. I was trying to get her to rely on her intuitive abilities, and she was focusing on her deficit of rational abilities.

All-in-all I have to give Kate’s experience “mixed reviews.” I had hoped that she would leave with a good feeling about having gone, but she didn’t. By the time we reached the car, she didn’t remember seeing the movie. I probably won’t take her to another one. I’ll add this to the growing list of things that we are dropping from our lives.

The Pleasure of Intuitive Thought

I can’t stress enough how much pleasure Kate and I have enjoyed because she has retained her intuitive abilities. They are the ones that depend on her direct experience with the world around her through her senses. She doesn’t have to remember the names of people, places, and things to enjoy beauty, music, and connections with people. I am encouraged by the knowledge that they can continue much longer than we imagine.

When we visited Ellen in her memory care facility the other day, I took notice of the way in which the residents expressed their pleasure with the singing led by Emily, the music lady who visits the facility two Sunday afternoons a month. With the possible exception of Ellen, all of the residents are much further along in their dementia than Kate, but they were delighted by the music. Only one of the ten or so residents took the floor and danced, but one other remained in her seat tapping her feet and her hands with the beat. There were many smiles around the room. It was a moment of pleasure for them and for Kate and me as well. Yes, we sang along with them.

I am glad we don’t have to depend on someone to come in twice a month. We play music all the time. It is a rare moment when music is not playing. We never tire of it. In fact, Kate’s senses seem to be more alive now than ever as her rational abilities fade away. I witnessed a good example of that yesterday afternoon. First, a digression.

Even during the winter when the trees were bare, Kate enjoyed looking at the dense growth of trees in the neighbor’s property behind our house. During spring, she took pleasure in the growth of new leaves. More recently, I put out a variety of potted plants on our patio and two pots of violet colored petunias inside our family room. Every time she walks through the room she stops and looks at all of them. Each time is like the first time she has seen them. She loves to bring my attention to several that are her favorites.

When the sitter left yesterday afternoon, Kate was lying on the sofa facing the sliding glass doors to our patio and the neighbor’s property. Generally, she has wanted to leave the house as soon as the sitter leaves, but she was enjoying looking at the trees. I put on an album by Alfie Boe. It began with “Bring Him Home.” That has always been a favorite of hers. That didn’t stop her enjoyment of the beauty outside. It just added an extra measure of pleasure for her. When the album was over, I played two different renditions of “Send in the Clowns,” another longtime favorite. Thirty minutes passed before I suggested we look at one of her family photo books. She said, “I’d like that, but let’s do that later.” She just wanted to enjoy the beauty of nature and music. I kept looking over to see if she might be falling asleep. What I saw were beautiful expressions of pleasure. Often she was mouthing the words to the songs. Occasionally, she would point out something she wanted me to see.

After dinner last night, I gave her the “Big Sister” album. She spent about an hour looking at it. Even though she doesn’t recognize everyone, she enjoys looking through it and other albums.

I have been increasingly concerned about the difficulty she has working puzzles on her iPad. That has been so important for her for such a long time, but maybe her intuitive abilities will open other doors for pleasure in the days ahead. I hope so.

A Good Evening at Casa Bella

Jazz night at Casa Bella last month did not go as well for Kate as it usually does. Two differences accounted for that. The first was the way we were seated. I sat diagonally across from Kate instead of directly across from her. That meant she would forget where I was and was a bit insecure. It also made it more difficult for her to participate in the conversation as no one sat beside her until I took that seat a little later. The second was the music itself. Most jazz nights include an abundance of old ballads that everyone our age easily recognizes. A new group of musicians performed, and their selections tilted toward less vocal and more contemporary jazz. It was not something that Kate enjoyed. I understood that at the time. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help being concerned about future evenings and what they might be like.

I am glad to report that we had a good time last night. I made sure that I sat across from Kate so that it would have been hard for her to miss me. We sat with the couple whose company we have enjoyed for the past five to six years. Late in the evening, the couple’s daughter and her husband joined us. We have also known them for many years. The musicians were the same group as last month, but they played a lot of old ballads familiar to the audience. The crowd was made up largely of seniors, mostly 65 and older. It was a very receptive audience. Of course, my only concern was Kate, and she enjoyed the evening as well. That is what matters most.

On a few occasions, I have said something about Kate’s eating habits. Though she does use her fork most of the time, she also picks up her food with her hands. I was especially mindful of that last night. We split a mahi piccata with linguini. She had finished most of her meal when I noticed that she was picking up the last bit of linguini and the capers with her hand. I don’t know whether anyone else at the table saw her, but it is the kind of thing that will be noticed sometime. It makes me wonder if we will reach a stage when I think it best not to be at a table with others. So far, it hasn’t been a problem. Even if our friends notice, they are very understanding.

Day before yesterday at lunch, we had a similar experience. She eats most sandwiches by taking them apart, separating the meat, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. Then she usually picks up the various pieces in her hand. That day she had a hamburger. I cut it into four quarters to make it easier for her to handle, but she took everything apart anyway. To me it looks a bit like a child’s plate with all the pieces of her hamburger strewn about, but there is something about sorting through the items that she likes. It could be that she is looking for things she might not like, perhaps onions, although I am very careful to omit onions from anything I order for her.

Contrasting Social Situations and Kate’s Response

It seems that Kate’s current behavior is, in part, related to the situations in which she finds herself. Yesterday, she reacted very differently to two social situations. The first was lunch with our senior pastor. As I had done when we met my Twitter friend last weekend, I made sure that she was seated directly across the table from him. He was also good about including her in our conversation. Kate responded accordingly. He and I did most of the talking, but she was also an active participant. Both of us enjoyed our time together. I doubt that our pastor could see much difference in her since we had lunch together two to three months ago.

Last night was an altogether different experience. We went to Casa Bella for Broadway night. We sat at a table for ten, and the talking was louder than usual. Often when we arrive there is only one other couple with whom we sit each time. That enables her to establish a comfort level. Last night, we were the first ones there. Shortly after, the rest of the group arrived. I think this was overwhelming for Kate even though everyone was good about speaking to her.

While we were waiting for our server to bring our meal, Kate started looking around the room. She looked very concerned. She said, “Where did she go?” I said, “Who do you mean?” She said, “The woman who came with us.” I told her it was just the two of us, that nobody came with us. She didn’t seem convinced.

Until the food arrived fifteen minutes later, she was very uncomfortable. She said that she was looking for her food. I told her they were preparing it, and it would be coming soon. She continued to be very bothered and wanted me to speak with the server. At one point, she caught the eye of our server and motioned for her to come to her. Before she could ask about our meal, I told the server we were fine, and she walked away. Kate’s distress continued until the meal arrived. Then she devoted her attention to eating.

On a typical music night, Kate would have loved the music. She did respond well to two or three numbers but expressed little enthusiasm for the overall program. The singers were outstanding, but they sang a lot of Sondheim’s music. It was not as melodic as she likes. She was glad when we left.

The whole experience made me wonder what the future holds in terms of our attendance at these music nights. They have played an important part in our lives for the past six or seven years. Last night, she did not enjoy herself the way she has in the past. She seemed to be bordering on causing a scene because her food had not arrived when she thought it should. I’ll just have to play this by ear in the future. If we are going to continue sitting at a large table, I may experiment by getting a table for two. Crowds appear to be a growing problem.

Mood and Conversation

In my previous post I commented on Kate’s less-than-cheerful mood and a change in her conversation. She just hasn’t been talkative lately. That changed yesterday. I wish I could remember exactly what she said, but I can’t. All I can tell you is a summary of what happened.

She was up about 7:30 and went to the bathroom. This was a day when she wanted to express her independence. She didn’t want my help. I walked her to the bathroom. Then I went back to the kitchen where I could watch on the video cam to see when she had finished. After a while, I hadn’t seen her and wondered if she had come out without my noticing. Then I heard the shower. I was happy about that since she was due for one. I also knew that she would want to return to bed afterwards. That would give me a little time to take care of a few things I needed to do. It wasn’t too long before she was in bed again.

From past experience, I knew that she could easily sleep another couple of hours, but I kept checking the video cam. (In case you wondered, my iPad with the video sits to the right of my computer.) At 10:45, she had shown no sign of getting up. I went back to wake her. When I approached the bed, I saw that she was awake and asked if she would like me to take her to lunch. She gave me a confused looked as though she wasn’t sure who I was.

When I sat down on the bed, I said, “I’d like to take you to lunch.” She said, “Where are my clothes?” I always put them on the chair about three feet from her side of the bed, but she can’t remember. I pointed and told her where they were. Then she said, “What do I do now?” I told her she should get dressed. As I helped her into a sitting position, I noticed that she looked frightened. She said, “I sure am glad to see you.” On one or two other occasions, she has been awake but didn’t get up because she didn’t know what to do or where she was. I quickly assumed (correctly) that was what happened this time. She was shaking as she talked. She said, “I didn’t know what to do.” Then I felt terrible for not checking on her earlier, something I will watch more carefully in the future. I apologized and told her how bad I felt. When I did that, she immediately tried to ease my guilt. She said, “Well, it’s going to be all right now? <pause> Isn’t it?” I nodded, but she wanted me to be more affirming and again said, “Isn’t it?” I assured her it was. She still appeared to be shaken by the experience.

Unlike her earlier desire to assert her independence, she wanted me to guide her through every step she needed to take to get ready. She was too emotional to think straight about everything she needed to do. On a normal day she has difficulty, but the emotional experience she had had exacerbated the problem. Several times she reiterated how scared she had been.

On the way to, during, and after lunch she was quite talkative. While we were eating, we had a conversation similar to one I reported on a couple of weeks ago. The first one involved Christopher Columbus. She asked who he was. I tried not to get into anything too overwhelming for her to understand. She asked questions about everything. That meant it did get too complicated for her, but she was still eager to know more. I had to repeat just about everything two or three times without her ever getting it, but she was interested anyway. Somehow the conversation drifted to food that was in the New World and introduced into the Old. I Googled a list of such items and read them to her. She was like a little child discovering something she had never thought about. She couldn’t believe they didn’t always have things like potatoes or corn in Europe before then.

The next topic was World War II. She started this one when she brought up the topic of discrimination. I mentioned the Holocaust and Hitler. We didn’t get too far on that one because she got too emotional. She was both interested and shocked. She is more emotional now and starts to cry at both happy and sad things she hears about.

We got home a short time before the sitter arrived. I didn’t tell Kate that Mary was coming. I just let her in. Kate welcomed her. I told her I was going out for while. She said, “We’ll be fine.” Once again, I left with a good feeling. When I returned, they were sitting in the family room talking happily.

After Mary left, we went to dinner. When we returned home, we sat down in the family room. Ordinarily, I would watch the news while she works on her iPad. She had been in such a good mood that I didn’t want to break it by watching the news. I turned on a Barbra Streisand album as Kate started to open her iPad. The first song I selected was “Send in the Clowns.” It has always been a favorite of hers. Instead of working a puzzle, she put the iPad down and just listened. Then I to selected a number of others that I knew or thought she would like. We sat there together for an hour just enjoying the music. She loved it. I did as well, but the real treat was sharing such a happy moment together. I feel fortunate that we can have moments like these, especially this late in her disease.

Examples of Kate’s Intuitive Abilities

Kate continues to amaze me with her intuitive abilities. For example, today as we walked from the car to the restaurant for lunch, she said something to which I responded differently than she expected. She was surprised, and I said, “You mean you think I’m predictable?” She laughed and said, “Are you kidding?” I don’t know that predictable is quite the right word, but I do have rather predictable patterns. She regularly makes comments about my personal quirks/behavior, and she is always right even when she can’t remember my name or who I am.

Another incident happened after we returned home. It was preceded by my playing an album of choral music that she likes. Sometimes she likes to sing along with the music though neither of us can remember all the words. One of the songs on the album is “Comin’ through the Rye.” She wanted to sing it, but we couldn’t make out enough of the words. At home, she wanted us to sing it. I told her I would have to look up the lyrics. When I did, I found the original Robert Burns poem on which the song is based. Of course, it had the Scottish expressions. That didn’t work. She asked me to sing something else. Without thinking, I started singing “Amazing Grace.” We sang a few bars before she said, “That doesn’t sound very appropriate.” I felt the same way. It just popped in my head, but it didn’t seem like the most appropriate song for us to sing at that moment. Now, I’m glad I did because it shows how sharp she can be when it comes to her intuitive abilities.

A Day of Ups and Downs

Kate’s confusion in the morning continued yesterday. The good news is that she wasn’t at all irritable. She just didn’t know who she is, who I am, or where she was. She was sleeping very soundly when I went to get her up. I really hated to wake her, but I knew we needed to get to lunch and back before her massage at 2:00. I wanted to allow plenty of time to avoid rushing her.

As I expected, she didn’t want to get up, but she did so very cooperatively. She was confused. She looked out the bedroom window as she does each morning and didn’t recognize where she was. Then she said, “Who are you?” I told her I was her husband. She was puzzled. I didn’t try to explain. I simply suggested that she take a shower and that we could look at some pictures I thought would help her. Again, she was cooperative.

She wanted to rest a while after her shower. That is not unusual at all. We had time, and I told her to go right ahead. After thirty minutes, I went back and helped her dress. When she was ready, I took her to the family room and showed her the “Big Sister” album. She immediately took to the cover photo of her and her brother. I asked if she knew who they were. She pointed to her picture and said, “Me.” She also recognized her brother. I find it amazing how a photo can begin to bring back memories. It is something that her intuitive abilities enable her to do. We opened the cover and looked at the first few pictures. She connected with them very quickly. Her sense of confusion was lifted.

I suggested we go to lunch and come back to spend more time with the album. She asked if she could take the album with us. I told her she could. When we got to the restaurant, she asked if she could take it inside. As I was about to suggest that she leave it in the car, she said, “Maybe I should leave it here.” I told her that sounded good to me.

It’s been over a month since Kate’s cataract surgery. It has definitely improved her vision – at least in some ways. I notice that she tries to read more than she did before. By “read” I mean to read a headline in a magazine or signs she sees wherever we go. Occasionally she makes an effort to read an article in a magazine, but the font is almost always too small for her. The major problem is not her eyes. It’s her Alzheimer’s. That was evident at lunch when I asked if she was going to eat her sandwich. She said, “Where is it?” This, too, is not unusual. She frequently fails to notice food that is on her plate. Once I pointed it out to her, she took a bite and put it down. A few minutes later when she hadn’t taken another bite, I asked if she wanted the rest of her sandwich. She asked me where it was. I believe part of the problem has nothing to do with her sight. I say that because she seems to locate most of the fries. I notice something similar when she has salmon and sweet potato fries at the Bluefish Grill.

It was noisier than usual at lunch. We were seated near a group of twelve on one side and eight on the other. Noise always bothers Kate. She was especially sensitive to that yesterday. She was in a generally good humor but annoyed by the chatter coming from both directions.

When we got home, we had about forty minutes before we needed to leave for her massage. She wanted to know what she could do. I suggested we sit on the sofa in the family room and go through the “Big Sister” album. She enjoyed that a lot but needed help identifying everyone. I think most of the problem is that people don’t look the same in photos taken at different times. Her Alzheimer’s also plays a part. For example, in a picture of four people standing side by side, I could help her identify the person on the extreme left. Then I would tell her the name of the person standing next to him. She has a tendency to skip that person and see the person to the right of him. That occurred several times even when I had my finger on the photo of the person. It’s not something I can understand. I just know it happens.

It wasn’t long before it was time for Kate’s massage. I left her there while I waited at Whole Foods which is a couple of doors down from the spa. When I went back to get her, she was sitting in a chair in the waiting room. She said, “Boy, am I glad to see you. Let’s get out of here.” It is always hard for her to explain how and why she feels a certain way, but I gathered that she was very confused about the whole process. She didn’t know what was going on when the therapist put her hands on her. I hadn’t thought about this before, and she has never acted this way before. She probably didn’t remember what it is like to have a massage. In addition, the therapist was someone she had not seen in quite a while. I am sure everything seemed strange to her even though I have been taking her twice a month for about three years. She has never expressed any enthusiasm about her massages, but I thought they must be enjoyable. Now, I am reconsidering. I think I’ll try one more time. If she isn’t happy with that, I’ll stop taking her.

The rest of the day went well. When we got home, we picked up her photo album again and looked at it until it was time for us to leave for jazz night at Casa Bella. We have heard the singer and the woman on the keyboard many times over the years. They are well-known locally and around the state. It was a very good evening. Kate had trouble hearing and understanding a lot of the conversation, but we were sitting with the same couple we’ve been with since the music nights began. They operated the restaurant for many years until they turned it over to their daughter and her husband. Shortly after we were seated, Kate said, “What’s the name of this place?” I told her and then said, “And this is the daughter of the woman who started the restaurant.” Kate had, of course, forgotten that as well. It was not an uncomfortable slip since the couple are aware of Kate’s Alzheimer’s and have been very supportive of her.

We got home a little later than usual, and Kate went to bed right away. It was a day of ups and downs, but it’s always good to end on a high note. We did.

Social Engagement and Music

I have often expressed how fortunate Kate and I have been. We’ve not had to face some of the problems that others encounter. Social isolation is often a problem for couples living with Alzheimer’s. That has not been an issue for us. It is true that we don’t attend many events that keep us out past 9:00, but in other respects we still get around. I’ll never know if that has played a role in Kate’s doing so well. I do know it has helped us maintain the quality of our lives.

Wednesday night we had dinner with friends we originally met at Broadway night at Casa Bella. We’ve gotten together with them for dinner a number of times in recent months. Kate and I have enjoyed their company. We always have a good time.

Yesterday we had lunch with a church friend. He and Kate became friends when she was the church librarian. His wife died about four years ago. She had Alzheimer’s, and he has been very sensitive about our situation. He stays in touch by phone, but this was our first time to have a meal together. We talked about our getting together again and look forward to that.

It was Opera Night at Casa Bella last night, and we had an especially good time. A new couple joined our table, both church friends. The husband is a professor of voice at UT. The two singers were students of his, both working on their PhDs. There were a number of ties that made it an interesting evening. Our church friends also knew the couple we sit with. For many years, they had been neighbors. The music was also outstanding. Kate and I first heard the male singer when he was an undergraduate four or five years ago. It was amazing to see how much he has improved since that time. The soprano was someone we remembered having sung in our church choir several years ago.

I was pleased to see Kate insert herself into the conversation, but I felt she was just on the edge of doing it inappropriately. We had an active conversation. That can be difficult for her. She handled it well. We have come to know (at least recognize) many of the people who attend. As the crowd gathers, people “greet and meet” those already there. Some of them are aware of Kate’s Alzheimer’s and are especially attentive to her. I like that because large groups are challenging for her.

As we left, Kate was on a high. She loved every minute. As we talked about the evening on our drive home, she expressed how much she enjoyed herself. She said, “I’m so glad we enjoy the same things. It wouldn’t have been as much fun without you.” I told her I felt the same way. She mentioned how much we have in common and that we were “on the same wave length.” Then she said, “And what’s your name?” I told her. There was a pause in our conversation for a few minutes. Then she said, “I’m glad we came.” I knew immediately that she thought we were in Texas. I said, “Me too.”

When I turned into the driveway at our house, she said, “I like the place where we’re staying.” After we pulled into the garage, she commented on what a nice garage it was. Once inside, she needed me to guide her to our bedroom and bathroom, but I didn’t hear anything more that suggested she thought we were in Texas. That is becoming more common these days.