A Visit With Out-of-State Friends

Debbie and Bruce Morton (a TCU roommate) visited us yesterday after spending two days with friends in Nashville. Kate’s memory of them was sketchy. We hadn’t seen them in a while and was a little uneasy about the visit. When they left, she talked about how much she had enjoyed the visit. She got along quite well. I noticed a few little things that the Mortons would not have noticed. David told me he and Vicki were surprised at how well she is doing. These are two common things about visiting with friends. Kate is often a little hesitant about getting together with people she doesn’t remember. The other thing is that everyone always is struck by how well Kate seems to handle herself. They often say, “If I hadn’t known, I would not have suspected she has Alzheimer’s.”

Thursday

Today’s Kate went to her PEO chapter’s meeting. This was just a social and not a regular meeting. I had gotten an email reminding me of the meeting 3 weeks ago. Kate had also received an email (at least I assume so), but she had never mentioned it to me. In order to prevent her awareness that I am communicating with a couple of her PEO sisters about things like this, I simply mentioned this to her a week or so ago as though it were something that she might have told me. She never questioned how I knew. I reminded her yesterday that she would be going today. She asked me what time we were going but nothing else. I told her I was going to take her to our church where she would meet someone who would take her to the meeting. She showed no surprise that I knew this. When we arrived, she got out of the car while one of her sisters came over to speak with me about making arrangements to get her back home. I noticed that she didn’t say much to but gave me more attention as if to say that Kate doesn’t really understand, I’ll tell Richard. After they returned, Kate said that the people in the car are big talkers and that she had a hard time getting in to say anything. I suspect that what is happening is that people are beginning to treat her as though she doesn’t understand. In other words, they are treating her in the very way that Kate has been concerned about. That is why she hasn’t wanted people to know. Things like this make me feel for her.

When she got home, she seemed tired. She has been in the bed ever since. Some of that time she has been working jigsaw puzzles on her iPad, but she has also slept. That is what she is doing now. I am about to get her up to take her to dinner. I have a dinner at the convention center this evening in connection with my responsibilities at the foundation. I think the social activity of the day has worn her out, another sign of Alzheimer’s.

Good Friday Update

Wednesday afternoon (April 1) Ann and Jeff Davis were in town; so we arranged to meet them for dinner at Il Giorgioni at 5:30 pm They were not sure when they would be finished with a hearing at the State House; so they called when they got out to arrange the time. Kate was outside working in the yard. I went out to her and told her that the Davises had called and we would meet them in about an hour. She said she would come in to take a shower and dress. I came back inside. Knowing that we had plenty of time, I didn’t worry when she didn’t come inside right away. She did so in about 20 minutes. There seemed no reason to worry. When I saw that she was getting dressed, I still did not worry. When she wasn’t completely ready 10 minutes before I had planned to leave, I went to her to ask how she was coming along. She told me to leave her alone. I did. I didn’t want to start another panic attack. When it was time to leave, I checked on her again. She was indignant and again told me not to talk and leave her alone. Finally, we got in the car at 6:00, the time we were to meet the Davises at the restaurant. At 5:25, I called Ann and told her we were running a little late.

After getting in the car, Kate asked what time we were to be there. I told her we were to have been there 30 minutes earlier. She then went into a panic and said she didn’t know. She wanted to know why I didn’t tell her. I told her I tried to explain but that she wanted me to leave her alone. This attack was not as severe as the last one, but she was still teary when we arrived in the restaurant parking lot. We took a moment for her to compose herself and went inside. She was very embarrassed about running late and felt it was her fault. She apologized to Ann and Jeff for being late.

Just before the Davises left to go back to Nashville, Jeff said he wanted to go to the men’s room. I said I needed to go as well. In the men’s room I told Jeff about Kate’s Alzheimer’s and explained that is what accounted for our being so late. Yesterday afternoon, I called Ann and apologized for telling her through Jeff and wanted to give her a little more information. She was quite tearful throughout the conversation and had me tearing me up near the end. She wanted to know what they could do. I told her it would be nice if we could come up to have lunch with them sometime in the near future. She mentioned that they are coming through on the way back from North Carolina next week and could have dinner with us. I told her that would be great.

A visit with University of Wisconsin Friends

We had a very nice overnight visit with Marjie and Ed Hinton yesterday. They arrived just after 3:30 and left this morning around 9:30. Everything went smoothly. It was like old times with Marjie who was a close friend when we lived in Madison 1965-68. Although she has remarried, we still feel close to her as well as her new (31 years) husband, Ed.

I doubt that either of them suspected Kate’s AD. A number of things were apparent to me but were probably not noticeable to them. When we were driving near the University after dinner last night, Kate commented that basketball was really the big thing around here. She is right that basketball is popular, but football is king. There were also a couple of times that she either repeated something she had said before or something I had said.

In addition, one of the things that has emerged during her “illness” is a greater interest in family. I don’t know that this is caused in any way by AD, but her jumping into conversations with people to talk about her family has increased tremendously over the past few years. It often comes out in talking over other people who are speaking. She seems eager to tell people about her family.

She really enjoyed showing the Hintons her yard. They both took a good bit of interest, and I must say that things look beautiful. The beauty was enhanced by two beautifully sunny days. I am sure she took great satisfaction in seeing her efforts being recognized and appreciated.

I should add that although she had been talking about and making preparations for their visit all week, she had forgotten about their coming yesterday until I mentioned something in passing. That was about 4 hours before their arrival. It was as though she had never known about it. That and a problem getting ready in time for a hair appointment led her to suggest that we get a calendar to post on the refrigerator door. I think that may be a good idea as well although I think I need to continue to enter things on my calendar with reminders to jog memory.

The good news is that even this far into her AD, Kate is able to enjoy life, and that together we are making the most of the time we have.

More Good Times

Yesterday was Memorial Day; so the office was closed. I did not go to the Y because of my back. I did take a 2-mile walk in the neighborhood. Kate and Ellen went to lunch . Then they went to a nursery before going to a movie at The Flick. I went to lunch at Panera and then to the Acura dealer to have the car serviced. I then went to the store and bought a pot roast, the fixings for spaghetti sauce, and tilapia. We had the fish last night before going to a neighborhood gathering to welcome the new neighbors on our street.

While there Kate got in a conversation with two women. One of them asked if she didn’t get bitten by bugs while working in the yard. Kate told her not very much and that she used Listerine to keep them away. They acted surprised. She told them it worked for her. This is something I have ignored for quite a while. I was thinking that she got the idea by hearing that it was good for bites not as a preventive measure and that she had simply misunderstood. At any rate, I let this go because it annoys her when I challenge her on things like this. I felt awkward with the neighbors because I didn’t want them to believe it would work for them and learn later that it does not.

Kate was quite sociable. She went her way, and I went mine. We both had a good time. When we got back home she joked with me that I was not the only one who could socialize. She jokes like this frequently now, something she didn’t do before.

This morning we went to breakfast with the Y group. She had a good time, especially as it was ending. We walked out with a couple of people and were talking with them outside the restaurant when we saw two other people we know. We must have talked with them for 30 minutes. Larry asked her if she had been to Texas lately. We said yes, and Kate said we went to Fort Worth for one day. We did not go to Fort Worth on this trip. We did go there in December. In that case we went for 2 days. There are lots of examples like this in which the listener would have no basis for questioning what she says. This is another way that Alzheimer’s can remain hidden for so long. Then another church friend and his caregiver, Judy, came out of the pancake house. We then engaged in conversation with them for another 15-20 minutes. Kate spoke with Judy about our getting together for lunch one day. This is something I see happening more often nowadays. In the past she might not have done it or at least not been as enthusiastic about it.

Why don’t people notice?

This is really a rhetorical question to which I know the answer. I still find it interesting that with so many signs of problems Kate successfully conceals her Alzheimer’s from most people. The reason is that other people see such a small part of her behavior. The time they are with her involves ordinary social conversation that she is able to handle as well now as she could in the past. I, on the other hand, am with her so much and get to see much more than others. This morning, for example, she let me know that she had called Ellen to arrange lunch and go to see a movie this afternoon. Although I had told her yesterday that the movie does not start until 3:00, she had forgotten. That would mean a long time between lunch and the movie. She called Ellen, and they worked out plans to do something in between lunch and the movie. Had I not intervened, they would have worked out things on the spot.

I told Kate she had an hour until Ellen was to pick her up. She said she was coming in anyway because of the heat and humidity. Thirty minutes later she was still outside. I told her she now had less than 30 minutes until Ellen arrived. She came in and started to get ready. She did a good job getting ready. Ellen came almost 15 minutes early; so she only had to wait 5-7 minutes before Kate was ready. This is part of a daily occurrence. Nothing too serious, and Ellen would probably never have connected it to Alzheimer’s if Kate hadn’t told her. Even then she may not have noticed anything. Most things are simply unseen by others.

Normal Ups and Downs

The Robinsons visit last Wednesday was a good one. It gave Kate a psychological boost. It was a non-threatening experience in which she could chit-chat on routine things and things from the past. I find that all experiences whether it is a good movie, a theater production, time with friends, eating out, etc. play a part in keeping her spirits up. I don’t mean that she gets depressed regularly. She does not. It’s just that she enjoys having things to do. That is increasingly important as her ability to do some things decreases.

We have been pretty active in the days since the visit. One of the things that she has enjoyed most was a book festival. We went on Saturday and Sunday specifically to see and hear one of my former clients who has written a book about his experiences in public relations. In addition, we browsed through the vendor area and saw a number of people we know in the hallways and in sessions we attended.

Kate got depressed when she was getting dressed for church. She had a hard time finding something that fits. This kind of situation occurs more frequently now. While the fundamental issue is her weight, I have tried to see that she has slacks that will fit. As I noted in one or two earlier posts, I took her to buy clothes about 6-8 weeks ago. We got 5 pair of slacks and several tops to go with them. She has rarely worn them. I assume that is because she forgets she has them. I have put the new clothes right at the front of the closet so that she can find them easily, but I am now assuming that she customarily has put things in some other location. I need to be more conscious of when she is getting dressed and helping her pick out things. The problem with this approach is that she is coming to resent my help thinking that she doesn’t need it.

Home from the Golf Tournament

I just got home from the foundation’s annual golf tournament, one of our biggest fundraisers. Kate is not home; so I know she got to go with our neighbor to the orchid garden. I looked around for her debt card and money and tip information and found them on the bed in her office. I guess that means that the neighbor had to pay. I know this had to be embarrassing for Kate. She had worked so hard to do this on her own.

On a different note, Kate gave me a bill for plants that Ellen had bought for her on Wednesday. It was $230. She acted scared to give it to me. She had held off giving it to me since Wednesday afternoon. Then she said something that I have thought for a long, long time. She said, “Think of it as my therapy.” That is exactly how I think of it.

Lots of Caregiving

I am with Dad in the hospital. I received a call from Mountain Valley at 6:00 am Friday morning saying they had discovered rectal bleeding and recommended that he go to the hospital. This morning they performed an endoscopy and discovered that he has 3 ulcers in his upper intestine. That’s good news as it can be treated with Nexium which they are doing intravenously now. He’ll probably go back to Mountain Valley on Monday.

This is the second time in a week that we have taken him to the emergency room. It is on these occasions that one becomes keenly aware of the multitude of people Who are here on a daily basis. Yesterday as I took a break to call Larry, a woman in the parking lot called to me. She told me her daughter was very sick and needed a wheel chair. I went inside, got a wheel chair, went to her car and brought her in. I noticed the mother was struggling from some type of foot problem and suggested she might need a wheel chair as well. After leaving the daughter with an attendant at the check-in desk, I took another wheel chair out to the mother and brought her in.

Two friends from Littleton, CO, visited us for 2 nights this week. It was good to see them. Kate enjoyed their company and was unusually talkative. She gives a fair amount of misinformation, but it doesn’t usually matter as the listeners don’t know and won’t have occasion to discover the mistakes.

She continues to spend time in the yard which I have noted on several occasions is her therapy. The plants don’t complain or give suggestions and neither does anyone else. For me it does occasionally present a problem. That is usually when we are scheduled to go someplace, and she gets caught up in the yard rather than getting ready. That occurred this week as I was focusing on getting the house ready for guests. She had brought in cuttings from the yard and put them in a small vase around the sink in the laundry room. While it was a nice touch, she didn’t notice that there was dirt all around the sink. If I hadn’t specifically suggested cleaning the area, she would probably not have noticed.

Recently Kate has become more sensitive about being corrected. I am having to learn not to say anything that might make her feel bad. One of my bad habits is asking, “Do you remember . . .” Because there is less and less she does remember, this is not a good thing to say.

A Brief Overnight Trip to Nashville

Yesterday we went to Nashville to visit our friends, Ann and Jeff Davis. We had a nice lunch with them and then went back to their home for a visit. We had a good time, but as we left, Kate said she felt a little insecure with them. The Davises are both very smart. She felt it was difficult for her to join in on the conversation and felt a little left out. I was disappointed because Ann is someone Kate has always admired. At one time, the Davises had lived in Knoxville. I hope that our next visit with them is more successful.

Before meeting the Davises, we went to a mall in Franklin. As is our custom, we wanted to go our separate ways and set a time to meet at Belk’s. I waited for her about 15 minutes before calling her on her cell phone. It turned out that she was waiting at Sears. Today we went back to the mall and arranged to meet at same place. While I was waiting for her, she called to ask where to meet me. It can be difficult to coordinate with her.