Kate and I got to bed late night before last. As a result, yesterday was a very short day. It was almost 1:00 before she got out of bed. She didn’t want to shower, so we were able to leave for lunch close to 2:00. I was afraid we might be looking at 2:30 or 3:00. As it was, we didn’t get back home until 3:30. I wasn’t surprised that she was tired. She took a nap in the family room while I checked email and watched a little football.
We ate so late that I didn’t feel like eating much. We went to a nearby Mediterranean restaurant where I got a bowl of soup, and Kate had salmon over basmati rice. Her meal came with a salad that I ate. That leads me to make a comment about two changes in Kate’s eating habits since her diagnosis.
The first is that she was known for her salads and desserts. Her mother was an outstanding cook, and Kate took after her until Alzheimer’s entered the picture. When our children were little, she was especially careful to prepare nutritional meals and snacks. As children Jesse and Kevin enjoyed her homemade yogurt, granola, bread, and whole wheat pizza crusts. She even made yogurt popsicles with orange juice for their snacks.
After the children left for college, she and I started eating out more often. That was the beginning of a lessening of her interest in cooking. One of the things she kept up with was making very good salads. Since Alzheimer’s and her shift away from salads, I have missed those. She is now a “meat and potatoes” eater. I have learned to order her “Bacon Turkey Bravo” sandwich at Panera without bacon (too hard for her) and lettuce. I sometimes ask that they omit the tomatoes as well since she often doesn’t eat them. When we split meals at restaurants, servers often ask if we want them to split the salad or bring an extra salad. I always tell them to bring just one salad and give that one to me.
My explanation for this change is that she has been guided for years by what she thought was nutritionally appropriate. With Alzheimer’s she eats the things she likes without regard to any dietary or nutritional concerns. This is not unusual for people with dementia. For a long time broccoli was one vegetable she would eat, but that is just about gone now. It is not just taste that is relevant. She frowns at the mention of certain vegetable options at restaurants. I recently mentioned our having squash soup at two different restaurants. She didn’t like the idea. I got her to taste mine, and she liked it.
One of the big surprises has been a change in her taste for Dr. Pepper, her favorite beverage after iced tea. Now she frequently comments that there is something wrong with it. When she asks me to taste it, it seems fine to me. I have taken advantage of this by often ordering tea for her just to avoid the calories. I still keep Dr. Pepper (8 oz. cans) at home. She often fails to finish one. That is not unique to Dr. Pepper. When she was drinking apple juice, she rarely finished one glass.
Another change that has occurred involves her sense of hunger. I know from others that this is very common among people with dementia. It is not uncommon for her to ask, “When are we going to eat?” within an hour or so after a meal. Because she has so little memory, this is understandable; however, she often doesn’t feel too full after a very filling meal. This does not mean that she has lost her ability to feel full while eating. Sometimes she tells me she is full. Other times I can’t be sure whether she is full or didn’t like her meal. I make this point because we had a filling meal at lunch yesterday. She ate a lot of bread, her entrée (minus the spinach), and our eggnog cheesecake. We finished our meal about 3:00. At 5:00, I told her I didn’t feel hungry right then and would like to wait until 6:00 to leave for dinner. She was comfortable doing whatever I wanted but would have been happy to go at 5:00.
Having slept late yesterday morning, did not affect Kate’s bedtime last night. She got in bed around 9:30. She was ready to go to sleep. It was not one of her talkative nights. When I got in bed a little later, she was still awake. I moved over close to her. She said something that made me think this was one of those times, she didn’t recognize me as her husband. Then she pushed me away. She often feels hot after she gets in bed. Most nights I move close to her when I get in the bed. I don’t usually remain that close for long because I get hot, and she gets hotter. (I’m talking body heat now. <g>) This made me ask if she was hot. She said, “Yes. That’s part of it.” I said, “What’s the other part?” She said, “I’m trying to think of how to tell you. Let’s talk about it tomorrow.” That’s quite a note on which to call it a day. I know she won’t remember this when she gets up this morning. I’ll never know what it was she was trying to think of how to tell me. I do know this. Within a few minutes, she moved closer and affectionately put her arm around me.