My 77 year old mother has Alzheimer’s. She lives with me and my wife for half the year in alternating 4-8 week visits between my brother and us. She cannot live alone, but functions on a level that is high enough that we can leave her alone for a few hours at a time. She doesn’t cook, but makes her own sandwiches for lunch. She won’t remember having done so fifteen minutes after eating one, but her habit is fairly established, and there is usually evidence that she did. With coaching, she heats up her evening meals that I prepare in advance in the microwave and makes herself a salad. We’ve noticed subtle declines in behavior over the past year as the effectiveness of her medication wanes
My brother came up with the idea of a daily checklist for her to fill out as she accomplishes her routine tasks such as showering, brushing her teeth and eating lunch. It is not foolproof, but is helpful.
Part of the problem is the fact that even with a calendar on the wall she still doesn’t know what day it is. We conquered that by purchasing a large character wall mounted electronic device that displays the day, date, and time. She figured that out quickly and was then able to correlate to the wall calendar which marks the family appointments, tasks and reminders, as well as her daily checklist.
May 21 2009
I should have noticed earlier but didn’t.
It was Thursday night. Mom had gone to bed to read a bit before sleep. All week long she seemed more confused than usual, compounded by some oral surgery the previous week. The mayo covered butter knife in the sink wasn’t always there. The coffee maker wasn’t used every day. She complained about already eating as she sat for her evening meal more than usual.
As I walked into the kitchen to freshen a drink, I noted that she hadn’t taken her morning meds. To complicate matters, she had checked the box indicating that she had taken her meds. Not only that, she had already checked off Friday’s list. It made no sense. I called her to the kitchen and asked her to explain, reminding her of the importance of the list for everyone’s peace of mind. She had no explanation. She shuffled over to the calendar and stared at it for a bit. Then she said, “I see somebody has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow.”
Knowing that the appointment was actually the following Tuesday, I said, “No, mother you are confused. This is Thursday, tomorrow is Friday.”
“Oh, she replied,” sounding unsure. “But….”
I was getting frustrated but at that very moment I glanced at the digital calendar. It said Monday. Not Thursday.
Somehow a stray neutron from space, or something else like it had altered the year to 2019. In 2019, May 21 is a Monday. The clock was incorrect.
No wonder she had had such a tough week. Her sole source of time reality was wrong. I felt terrible. I apologized, and hugged her. She took her meds and went back to bed.
Today she seems better oriented.
Hard evidence. Sometimes the truth lies somewhere else.