Life with Alzheimer's
Time marches on and my Mom's memory continues to fade, like the color in the Fall trees. One day there is brilliant color and the next time you notice, the leaves have changed to a muted shade.
Days and times are non existent. When asked what day of the week it is, there is a long pause. We have placed a clock with the date, time, and day of the week next to the front door and it goes unnoted. A large calendar with the week's activities is taped boldly to the back of that same door that she exits through several times a day, yet it is unread. Telephone calls prior to important events is the only reminder that seems to move her forward to a specific time of the day. A doctor appointment, a friend or family visit, or the dinner hour all sit behind the scenes of the day until a phone call or knock on the door bring them to life again.
Self care is slowing. With hair salon appointments twice a week, the need to brush her hair in the morning has become less important. This is sad to see since Mom always cared so much for her appearance. She still dabs with an occasional lipstick, but largely follows the retirement village crowd and wears no makeup.
The winter season does not seem to be a reality this year. Dressed in summer pants and a long sleeve shirt, she seemed ready to brave the windy cold day without a coat. By describing the chilling effects of the cool breezes and how she gets so cold, I finally convinced her to change into a warmer outfit with a winter coat. She remarked several times about the weight of the clothes as I continued to remind her that she would be grateful when she got outside. As the sharp cold hit her face, it brought Winter back to the front of her disconnect.
On the way to pick up a new pair of eyeglasses, we asked Mom where she wanted to eat lunch. Her response caused some reflection. I don't know the difference anymore, anywhere is fine was her response. This is a lady who loves to eat out and for years has responded to that same question with a request for American food. She would get tired of Chinese and Mexican food and ask for simple foods. That phrase has been lost in her memory, buried with the names of favorite restaurants and food preferences.
She relished every bit of fish on her plate and seemed to listen to the conversation, interjecting a question at times. If only she would remember what was said. The verbal connections would soon be lost to memory and repeated again in an attempt to bring the memory back.
Physically, Mom is moving slower. She is not as steady on her feet. Her eyes are irritated more often and certain lights seem to bother her. The eye doctor says that her vision is maintaining. She feels that it is worse. Could it be from the Alzheimer's? As the brain changes, does it affect the eyes and the ability to see and to process what is seen? Her lined bifocals are up-to-date and glare free. Getting her to look through the upper half of the glass to see distance is a constant battle. She holds her head so that the lower half is used more that it should be. Yet, she constantly pulls them off and puts them on, unsettled with them on or off.
The changes continue. Each person is different and the progression may be slower or faster than my experiences. I hope this information helps someone caring for a family member watching the progression of this disease with a loved one. It helps to know that someone else knows what you are going through. I will be praying for you. Say a prayer for me, would you?