As a caregiver, I’m always looking for patterns in Kate’s behavior; however, I tend to talk more about variations. I suspect that is true for most of us. It’s the unusual things that stand out, not what is normal every day. There are exceptions, however. The first time something new occurs, I wonder if this is the beginning of a new “pattern.” Often, it is not, but that doesn’t keep me from wondering the next time I see something new.
Kate’s daily pattern has changed many times during the course of her Alzheimer’s. I remember the early days when she worked in the yard 6-8 hours a day. Later, she working jigsaw puzzles on her iPad became her primary activity. She did that, too, 6-8 hours a day. That ended with the pandemic. It was also the end of her self-initiated activity. I had to spend more time keeping her occupied. Despite that, she began to rest on and off during the day.
She’s gone through several changes in her sleep patterns. Most of the time since she was hospitalized for COVID, she has slept until 11:00 or noon almost every day. There were always exceptions, but I found I could pretty well count on her not being awake before 11:00. That gave me time to relax and take care of routine household or personal responsibilities.
More recently, perhaps the last couple of months, she’s been alternating in a somewhat unpredictable way between waking much earlier, sometimes before 7:00, and sleeping until 11:00 or 12:00. I haven’t tried to keep a record of the time she wakes and how she is behaving, but it appears that she has one or two days when she wakes early and then is worn out the next day. Sometimes when she wakes early she is talkative. On a number of those occasions, she’s been talkative a good bit of the day.
The past two days have been a good example. On Tuesday, she was awake around 8:30, just before I took my morning walk. I gave her some juice and her morning meds. She was somewhat talkative for that time of day and in a good humor. I expected that she would go back to sleep while I walked, but when I finished, she was wide awake and even more talkative. That doesn’t mean someone was actually there to talk with her, but she doesn’t talk as though she is talking to herself but somebody she imagines to be there.
I decided to join her in bed and talked with her. As usual, I couldn’t always understand what she was talking about. Some of her words were unrecognizable even to her. That is something new in the last few days and occurred a number of times that day. She would say something like “She’ll want to go to the ‘boober.’” Then she would say, “’Boober’? What’s that?” Each time it was always a different word.
I spent most of the morning with her but checked on her periodically when I was out of the room taking care of other things like finishing up a few details on our 2020 income tax for which I had taken an extension. She never stopped talking.
After the caregiver arrived around noon, I joined a couple for lunch in the café downstairs. When I returned almost two hours later, Kate was still talking. She was also fiddling with her clothes, running along creases in her pants as well as pulling her shirt up as if she planned to take it off, something she was unable to do. This was something I had noticed when I was with her that morning. She was somewhat agitated but not disturbed, just talkative and fidgety.
It was about the time that we normally go out for ice cream, but the caregiver and I agreed that it seemed better to remain at home. She gradually seemed less agitated but continued to talk. When it was time for dinner, we decided not to go to the main dining room. I brought our meals to the apartment.
After dinner, we sat on the balcony for a while before getting her ready for bed. Kate talked the whole time and continued to talk after we put her in bed. Shortly after 9:00, she was still talking. I gave her a 5mg tablet of melatonin and turned out the light. Twenty to twenty-five minutes later, she was asleep. It had been quite a day, certainly not her normal pattern.
I wasn’t surprised that she was very tired yesterday. She was still asleep when the caregiver arrived at noon. Adrienne let her sleep another hour or so, before getting her up for the day. She fixed Kate some lunch. Kate ate it all but was very quiet. She rested until it was time for dinner.
We ate in the main dining room. When we returned to the apartment, we spent a little time on the balcony before giving Kate a shower and putting her to bed. It wasn’t long before she was asleep.
She slept until 8:30 this morning. After my walk, I spent the morning with her. She was cheerful. We had a good time together. It looks like a more typical day, but after the events of the past couple of days, I can’t help wondering if we are in the early stage of a new pattern. Time will tell.