I just looked down on today’s earlier post and realized I had used the work “post” twice in the same paragraph, same sentence, without even thinking. It appears this new life may be growing on me. Wahoo!
Ok, let’s see what I might contribute towards the 2nd Warning Sign on the list of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s: difficulty performing familiar tasks.
Not long after I arrived at Maxine’s, I met the nurse who had originally come three years prior to tend to Maxine’s 4th husband’s needs. Although he was in his nineties and was fighting cancer, he was losing weight at an unnecessarily alarming rate because his requests for a meal netted him no more than one-half a sandwich. Maxine was tapped out with that. I arrived about 14 months after his passing and Maxine had continued to benefit, now for her own nutritional needs, with thrice weekly three (sometimes plus) hour nurse visits. Even so, Maxine now weighed less than 100 pounds and had no appetite. Living alone, lonely for a husband, suffering back pain and having manifested symptoms of Alzheimer’s, even the supposed ease of merely having to warm food proved, more often than not, to be an unworthy task. It originally sounded as though my main responsibility would be to make certain she had correct medication/supplements at the right times (and not too much). From the first day, though, I realized it was more than a courtesy to learn the nurse’s intent with her meal preparations and do all I could to convince Maxine to eat more than the two tablespoons of food she believed would suit her best.
I run into consistent resistance with Maxine over eating. I find it embarrassing, now, to remember the first time after I came when she was visited by two women who have faithfully visited her once a month for several years. She had not finished eating her lunch when they arrived and I tried to achieve their cooperation in making sure she cleaned up her plate before they began to visit. I knew once she had an opening to begin her stories, the cause was lost.
I’m pretty sure the threat of being placed in Assisted Living followed right on the heels of Maxine getting lost driving home one night now about a year ago. When she finally spotted a light on in someone’s home and contacted the police, once they arrived they told her she was on the street behind hers and they escorted her around the block to her house. Her son took her car keys in a familiar battle I’ve heard of between elder parents and middle-age sons. Despite Maxine’s protests and desires to drive when she “gets well”, she apparently has not recognized the streets in her own neighborhood for close to a couple of years. I garnered this information a few days ago from a neighbor who had driven her to about six weeks of therapy. She said they always took the same route and once, after taking that route the previous three or four times, Maxine declared she’d never been that way before. Some of the most pitiful conversations to be had seem to be over losing the independence of being able to drive oneself where one wants to go; and the most terrifying, not knowing where you are or how to get where you have in mind to end up.
On that sad and sorry note I end here. If you’re not relating by now, this may not need be a concern in your situation.