We Learn to Accept or Ignore the Things Our Patients Say and Do

9 Comments

Oh my, the things Charlie comes up with sometimes. He likes to read the ads in the newspaper because they don't require any concentration/memorization. Today he told me we should go to JC Penney because they have swimsuits on sale and he needs one. In the 17 years I have known him, I have never seen him in a swimsuit. There is one in the bottom of his drawer I have kept in case of a high water emergency. I agreed we should go look, but I'm sure he has already forgotten about that necessity.

I told you he had nearly stopped drinking. He now has 1-2 glasses of half wine, half ginger ale daily and that is it. One day this week he was having a particularly bad day and he refused to go to bed at his new time, 10 p.m. So I went off and left him to himself. I got up the next morning and discovered a new bottle of wine open in the refrigerator, but there was no cork or neck wrapper on the counter (his usual tell-tale evidence), so I thought perhaps my memory was beginning to go. Yesterday I found the evidence laying on his worktable in the garage. He had opened it there in hopes that I wouldn't notice. It's funny, the things they can't remember but the wily nature they can, at the same time, possess.

Two days ago we learned that Charlie's best friend from Buffalo was bringing Charlie's 90-year-old brother for a short visit. We hadn't seen either of them since we moved to New Hampshire six years ago, so Charlie was thrilled. But he made a strange comment. He said, "I wonder how that's going to work out?" I didn't question him as to what he meant, but I am wondering if he is concerned about how he and his brother, who also has dementia, are going to converse for the two or three days they will be visiting. It also occurred to me that he might be worried about how a visit from his two old drinking buddies is going to play out. I think I will have to step up as bartender and use lots of ginger ale; maybe I can fool all three of them. It should be interesting.

At times I think the dementia is not progressing, and then other times he says something that makes me realize it is getting worse. I have recently found, as I am helping him dress, he can't remember what garment to put on first or which is back and front. If I don't help, he may come out in the morning with his clothes over his pajamas or vice versa. Nothing seems to make much sense to him these days, making life very confusing.

This evening, as I put him to bed, I laid his underwear for the next day on the chair in his bedroom. He insisted that I remove it from the seat and hang it over the back of the chair. I asked him why he wanted it hung and he told me, "Someone's been sitting on the chair." There was something about that that I just didn't comprehend.

Charlie has never had a formal evaluation with a geriatric specialist to see exactly what type of dementia he has or what stage he is in. The tests he has had are enough for me. I don't really see the need to put a name on everything when the treatment is basically the same in nearly every case. Maybe that is the wrong attitude to take. We live in a city with the foremost medical center in our state, but, unless his condition changes drastically, I don't expect to seek out lengthy tests and evaluations for something that we can't change. In the meantime, I just go along with his idiosyncrasies and try to remain strong, calm and flexible. C'est la vie.

Marlis describes herself as a “Gramma who loves technology and has a lot to say.” She blogs about whatever catches her interest: food, books, family and more. For AgingCare.com, she writes about the issues facing the elderly and her experiences caring for her husband, Charlie, who suffers from dementia.

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9 Comments

Marlis, My mom who has now passed and my mom in law both had and have Alzheimer's dementia. My experience is very similar to yours but I need to adopt your attitude. You are good at just accepting what comes and not trying to argue which is a gift. I know not to correct or argue but sometimes it is just automatic and I always instantly regret it. I need to remember to live in their world. My mom had a place on her bed for a short while, maybe 3-4 months, that no one could sit on and we couldn't place things on, after a while she told me that her brother sat there. Of course he had been gone for years. (Who am I to question that!). Best wishes to you, and God Bless your husband . I hope the visit goes well. Keep us posted.
I enjoyed your article, and your go-with-the-flow attitude. I bet the visit will be interesting.
thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts and feelings down for us to share. It was helpful in confirming my decisions.