Alzheimer’s 101

A NOT SO UNCOMMON DAY

Early, 1 or 2 in the morning, my husband leaves the bed for the bathroom and then I hear the closet door open. I call him and the closet light goes on(when this happens my brain says – morning and I’m up). Next, light off and he goes across to the bathroom from his closet. He returns to bed to get up an hour later to try to leave our bedroom by opening the closed double doors to the hall. Solve that and he makes it to the bathroom.

In the bathroom we have a night light next to the sinks, a light that lights up the toilet area and another mounted outside the toilet that lights up the entire bowl. These are both motion sensitive and stay on about a minute. Thank you, Amazon.

Every morning for over 40 years, we have had tea, read the newspaper and have breakfast. The grapes cannot be found although they are in their usual place. We eat a cereal for breakfast so no stove involved except for early morning herbal tea. It is good for Bill to make his breakfast – he feels enough loss about so much. He wants to be useful and as much as possible it is a good idea.

Coffee, always a ritual, just not first thing anymore. Around nine we make coffee in the Chemex ritual. Yes, we have had coffee makers but no more. Neither of us like those little pouch things made in a computer like gadget. So, we are coffee snobs and probably food snobs too. I am glad I only make lunch and dinner. I really love to cook but not breakfast. At 78, I have cooked a lot. Cooking was and is my stress reducer. Get frazzled, annoyed, worrying as we all do, and my advice is go to the kitchen, that is, if you love cooking. Use that time to decompress. Making a meal can be a form of meditation.

Mid morning, errands, grocery store. I can no longer send Bill for items in the stores, as he can’t remember which organic milk to choose or where to find the onions. This is the problem as it is with washing dishes, sorting mail or many things that were almost automatic, now, hard to find words and actions that match up.

He wants to help, I want him to help. But the ability to wash a dish or remember to finish the dishes is fast disappearing.

I started writing this to go through a whole day but I have lost the mind for it, lost the heart for it and worse lost the humor in it.

Each day is much the same, food, a walk, dog adoration and a repeat of so many things. I know as we age our days become routine and we cling to the familiar. Now, it isn’t that I mind the routine for I have created much of it as I love order and doing things in a way that makes sense (to me.)

I am a stranger in this Alzheimer’s land and so is my husband. Who knew? Who would want to know? Each day I see him lose more and I see myself struggling to stay focused, do some kind of work every day as that makes it all easier to handle. I have always needed a sense of accomplishment and seldom more than I now need it, no it is a necessity. I need to feel that I am keeping up with the house, the dog, the myriad of detail that is now my responsibility. For Bill, I don’t think he now notices his losses as much as he did a month ago. He does something, loses something, asks for help but I don’t think he worries. Maybe for a moment but it is all moments.

I value the moments when we have a conversation that lasts a bit. Often, we are talking but then we are in some off the subject conversation that doesn’t relate and I know he has drifted off.

Learning, I am learning as his experiences decline, learning to be the one thing I have avoided – to be patient. And where I am right now, as a woman, mother, wife, caregiver, sometime Buddhist and friend in this situation, I am learning that to be sane and capable I have to be in the moment. And to stay out of the 4 a.m. thoughts such as – what if? how will I? when can I find time to?

The Rolling Stones said it best, you don’t always get what you want………

What I have lacked in my life is patience and I am now enrolled in Patience 101.