IN EARLY ALZHEIMER’S AVOIDING ONLY GOES SO FAR

This stage of living with Ralph’s Early Alzheimer’s has become something of a blur. There is so much sameness; so much less, well less drama. 

Ralph is calm and comfortable. And I’m used to, even sanguine doing everything practical that needs doing—appointments, bills, cleaning, cooking, planning. Basically thinking for two—and even used to the conversations we have over and over. We don’t analyze or discuss the situation any more the way we used to when he was first diagnosed. We avoid confronting the facts I suppose.

I make sure he has his coffee and pills in the morning and that he showers and changes his clothes (every other day at least). I check in on him randomly through the day to make sure he has eaten lunch, that the dogs have been let out and brought in before they bark, that he has books to read, that his two beers appear from their secret hiding place when he asks, that he accomplishes small chores like taking out the garbage and picking up dog poop in the yard when asked. He likes the sense of accomplishment; I no longer ask/expect more. He still takes an occasional walk with me if prodded. We always have dinner together, always with a radio on to hide our lack of conversation. 

And sometimes we listen to a music program (sometimes the same show repeated on different nights, but Ralph doesn’t notice). These are our most engaged, lively times, but Ralph seldom listens to a whole show before wandering back to the comfort of reading in bed.

So our life repeats itself day after day. Boring but Easy. Asking little and not really paying more attention than absolutely necessary, I go through the routine of our days without the anxiety that used to roll over me daily.

But last night I had to notice.

First Ralph surprised me by asking about our upcoming trip back to the farm to get his tools. Now the tools, or the fact that the farm’s current owner threw them out with all the other junk in the storage shed so they are gone for good, are a topic of frequent conversation. But last night Ralph wasn’t asking about the tools; he was talking about a trip he believed was planned, was sure I’d told him we were going very soon for a visit

He accepted my response, that no trip was planned and that in fact no trips were planned because of Covid. But I could tell he was confused in a different way than usual. He had not forgotten something, or even misremembered.  He had created an idea out of the blue. I was thrown off kilter but let it go. 

A few hours later I came into the bedroom a little before nine. Ralph and the dogs were tucked. By rote I checked that the door from the bedroom to the back patio was locked. It wasn’t. 

Which was strange because Ralph is an obsessive stickler for doors being locked. Now that we live in a city, locking all the doors has become one of Ralph’s repetitive behaviors, like rubbing his hands, and drinking his beers. 

“Ralph, you didn’t lock the door?” I said in casual surprise but without concern. I always check the doors myself anyway, a bit of a stickler myself these days. 

“I thought I did,” he said, and then added. “You better check them every night. I can’t  trust myself to remember.”

Avoiding only goes so far. Those five words broke my heart. 

10 thoughts on “IN EARLY ALZHEIMER’S AVOIDING ONLY GOES SO FAR

  1. Subtle, unexpected changes–they’re the down in the roller coaster of life with an Alzheimer’s patient. Suddenly, things that had been routinely cared for — aren’t, and you and I are put in the position of taking up the slack. Blessings to you — hang in there, as shall I.

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  2. Every time I read one of your posts it’s as though you’re writing about my life and I always feel better that it’s not just me. Our husbands, although very different personalities, seem to be on parallel tracks and we seem to deal with it all in such a similar way that you bring me comfort. There’s no training for this is there and I feel as though I’m making it up as I go along but I try to be one step ahead as much as possible and respond to his needs as they change which is all I think any of us can do.

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    1. Ah yes, by the ‘seat of our pants’ learning. My husband was diagnosed about 4 years ago and is now on two medications. He can no longer take care of his medications, so I do it. The drugs are helping slow the progression, but I can see signs that it IS progressing. Be well–take care of yourself! and reach out to others who are on the same path. Blessings to you. Carol (aka Tehachap on WordPress).

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  3. I’m not dealing with dementia of any kind that I know of. But I am struggling with my old hunting dog. I know she is getting old but it’s not until a step is taken, a little increment towards the end that breaks my heart. A few days ago we were hunting and I noticed that she wasn’t with me. I called her but she didn’t come. I walked back on the trail and I saw her. She was setting. I called her but she didn’t respond. She was just looking at me. We had gotten near a dirt road and she decided she had had enough. The next time I went she didn’t want to go at all. So I’m very sad these days because I know that that chapter of our life is about to close and I’ll have to go on without her. Makes me think of the song, Who Wants to Live Forever.

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    1. In fact Ralph’s lab, the dog he says is the best of the many he’s had since childhood on, is now over 16 and beginning to fail and I dread when that chapter closes for Ralph. And I’m sorry you are going through it too.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to you. A dear friend just lost her dog last week — Z had dementia and acted exactly as your dog did. She took Z for a walk on the beach — one of Z’s most favorite places to be. Z walked down a ways along the edge of the water then abruptly sat down and looked around. She didn’t appear to be ‘there’ mentally. She’d been diagnosed with dementia last year (I didn’t realize dogs and cats could develop dementia). By the time Z’s time here was over, she’d also lost her hearing. So painful to lose someone so close… Do take care.

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  4. I’m sorry for the changes you are starting to notice. It seems that any peace that is found in this process is short-lived. I notice that sometimes things change for the worse but then ebb back again for a bit. I hope the new changes are infrequent for you- for awhile anyways…
    One of my defenses is to try to think of myself as a single woman when I am keenly aware of having to take care of everything myself. It helps me to stop thinking of my husband as a partner who might help me and then getting upset when he can’t. These words sound rather absurd as I type them out; but, it helps. The man I married is here only in small bits and pieces. I will care and love the man that struggles in his place but it is no longer a partnership.

    Liked by 3 people

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