Friday, February 19, 2010

Simple Things Aren't Always So Simple

Mark's daughter was with for half of her school vacation this week. To Mark and I, it is ordinary. To Pat, it changes her whole world.

When Summer first gets to our house after school, Mark and I usually go somewhere alone for an hour or so. She's almost 16 and all Pat really  needs is a companion. Plus, we NEED a break and Summer gets that. The whole time we are gone she questions Summer about where we are and why did we take her car without asking her. I told Summer, from now on, she needs to set up a puzzle for Pat to help distract her.

Her being here sends Pat in to another world. She starts her questions about where she lives and why can't she drive, and on and on. She adjusts quickly to Summer being with us though, and is back to her self by breakfast the next morning.

And then when Summer leaves, it creates confusion for her. I knew it would be worse this time because we had her longer. The night she left, Pat kept telling me something wasn't right. I just isn't right. She felt fine she said, but something was different. It must have been the lack of Summer, her teenage stuff scattered on the floor, and her bubbly personality that Pat missed. We did too!

To us, change in our lives is minor and we handle the simples things easily. For someone with Alzheimer's, sometimes even simple things aren't always so simple.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Recharging this Superbowl weekend with a Break from Alzheimer's

I just returned from a walk in the woods with Mark. It was chilly but the sun was gorgeous as we SLOWLY wandered along, not a care in the world. No need to hurry back to check on Pat... through the window to see if she's remained building her puzzle or gotten up for any reason. No having to come right inside when we got back.

Pat is at her daughter's house for the weekend and we are enjoying our time without responsibility. Dinner and up late last night. It's weird with no noise control, no schedule to keep, no meds to remember, no one to assist or answer. It seems weird to me anyway. My subconcience still has thought of her a dozen times only to realize she isn't with us. I feel like her mother.

The past month has been rough, yet still the same. She hasn't gotten much worse but the constant inconsistency of Alzheimer's is maddening. She likes corn, then she doesn't. She doesn't want anything to drinkwhen it's water because she doesn't want to go the bathroom but when I replace it with Crystal Light she drinks it right down. I tell her, "Time to take a bath".... She replies, "I don't feel good." How cold she must think I am when I authoritatively tell her she has to. She doesn't realize she says this every time I ask her to do something she doesn't like.

I cross the line with her all the time. Tell her lies, trick her and play games on a daily basis. And I feel bad for doing it, but that is the name of the game when caring for someone with Alzheimer's. Their rationality is gone and you need to keep them safe... so you learn to think for both of you and convince them to do what they need to do.

I respect Pat. I've known her for almost 10 years and have seen her go through some tough stages in her life. We have become pretty close to one another being together all the time. I can read what she is thinking/obsessing about just by her body language. And I can see how lost she is. Alzheimer's just stinks.

It requires so much energy to care for someone with Alzheimer's. It's emotional, physical and mental. We are happy to have the chance to power back up this weekend!