As the year ends, we are experiencing some things that are just like they were a year ago. That is, most of Kate’s symptoms are very similar to a year ago. There are, however, two differences. The first is not surprising, but it bothers me. Her memory is clearly worse. Second, she and I are both adapting pretty well to the changes that we have experienced not only this year but the preceding seven years since her diagnosis. Let me give a quick example that occurred this afternoon.
Apart from our routine daily events, Panera, lunch, and dinner, the only thing on our agenda was a birthday drop-in for a woman with whom we sit at Casa Bella for their musical events. She was 93 yesterday. The drop-in was between 2:00 and 5:00. We returned home from lunch shortly before 2:00. My intention was to be at the party around 3:00 but with no firm time. As we got out of the car, Kate asked, “What can I do?” I told her we would be leaving for the party in about forty minutes and that she could work on her iPad for a while or go outside for a short time before getting dressed for the party. She had forgotten about the party. I had told her multiple times including just before we got home. She chose to go outside. It is like a magnet for her.
I let her stay outside for about thirty minutes. Then I called her in to get dressed. She came in right away, something that is new over the past year or so. I walked to her room with her and showed her some clothes that I had picked out for the party. She liked what I had chosen and started to get ready as I left the room. In a few minutes, I went back to our bedroom where I found her dressed in the same clothes she had been wearing. I mentioned the party and told her she hadn’t put on the clothes I picked out. She had forgotten the party again. She didn’t remember any clothes I had picked out. She followed me back to her room where she had thrown her top on a chair and the pants on the floor. She had put her sweater back in the closet.
This time she put on the clothes I had picked out. More significantly, from the standpoint of a change in her is that she very happily accepted my suggested clothes and put them on. In the distant past, she would have asserted her independence. As the year closes, I find that she commonly accepts my suggested changes in her clothes when I think it appropriate, now. This surely makes things easier for me. As I have noted before, though, this comes at a cost because I know that her increasing dependence is associated with the progression of her Alzheimer’s. I don’t like to see that.
I, too, have adapted over the course of Kate’s illness. I now do a better job of not fretting about her wearing good clothes to work in the yard, or to wear clothes that are somewhat soiled, or to avoid any rigid time constraints. All of these things have helped us handle our situation with a minimum of frustration. I emphasize “minimum.” It would be next to impossible to avoid all frustration. I am glad to say that my sense of frustration is a very minor aspect of my feelings. I find that sadness for Kate and for our relationship is a much bigger emotional issue.
The year has been marked by highs and lows. I haven’t gone back to read my posts from the past few months, but I believe I was in a more upbeat mood several months ago. I sense that as the year closes, I am less upbeat as I consider that the latter stages of her illness appear closer and closer.