Ah, the challenges of communication! Lately I find that I need cues other than the spoken word to really understand Jim. The more anxious or frustrated he is, the harder it is for him to accurately articulate what he is trying to say.
As I have written before, Jim struggles with climate comfort. For the most part, I find that if I keep the temperature at 74 degrees, he seems content most of the time. (As a side note, my body thermostat runs much hotter. I'd feel much better at 68 or 70, but 74 brings the peace, so that is what it will be.)
The other evening, for whatever reason, the 74 degrees was not working for him. The following conversation ensued:
Jim: "It's way too cold in here!!! What is the temperature???"
Me: "It's set at 74, but if you are too cold, I will turn it up."
Jim: " No! This says it is 54 degrees!" (He was looking at our inside weather monitor that measures both inside and outside temperature.)
Me: "Let's look at the indoor temperature, which shows it is 74. I can turn up the thermostat if you are too cold."
Jim: (Angrily) "It's too cold in here!"
As he says this, he is taking off his zip up hoodie he was wearing over his t-shirt. I suddenly realize that he is too hot, not too cold.
Me: "Ok, I'll fix the thermostat so that you'll feel more comfortable."
Notice how I carefully chose my words with that last statement. And, I had to pay attention to his body language, not his words to figure out what he was trying to tell me. More and more this is happening when he is anxious or upset, where yes means no, and no means yes.
The problems with word finding continue and seem to be increasing. Last night as he came to bed he woke me up to ask:
"When is ........" (gesturing with his hands held palms up).
I'm half asleep and have not a clue as to what he is talking about.
"You know..........on Monday......."
I'll spare you the painful details of the belabored conversation we had, but essentially he thought the presidential election was Monday and he was afraid we would forget to vote. He has been worried about this for quite a while, and we've had several conversations regarding this. I put it in his appointment book, but I don't think that helps if he can't remember to look for it there.
We met with our financial advisor this past Monday. It really was a brief, general meeting for Jim's benefit. Later in the week I met alone with our financial guy. We reviewed our portfolio, and we discussed the reality of Jim's shortened lifespan given his dementia diagnosis, as well as the expected expenses of home care for Jim. This definitely impacts on our/my financial future.
Long ago, Jim and I decided against long term care insurance. Instead, we chose to self insure, taking the amount that would be payed for LTC premium and pumping that money into our investment portfolio. Our finance guy has this fancy software that evaluates and projects your rate of return on investments and projects the income flow over your life expectancy. It looks like we'll be OK, even with Jim's health changes and projecting the costs of his care. I know that life is full of surprises (!), and I'm prepared to adjust as needed if financially we need to do so.
I met with the local Alzheimer's Association yesterday. They are a wonderful organization! Two very caring young women spent about an hour with me. They listened, and they encouraged me to guide the focus of our meeting. They provided me with lists of resources (gerontologists, counselors, support groups), and also had some good advice regarding coping skills for the caregiver. I was so impressed with their professionalism, their knowledge and their caring, empathic listening skills.
Update on the "leaf eradication" project (as Patti describes it) :-) I have ordered a battery operated leaf blower. Friends of our's have one, so I know that it is light weight and easy to use. It should arrive on Monday or Tuesday. I haven't told Jim yet. This is the kind of thing where it works best if I don't tell him too much ahead of time, as he will worry and be anxious about it. Once it comes, if he does not like it, I'll tell him it is for ME and that I want to be able to blow the leaves. Once he sees me use it, I'm guessing he'll love it and want to take over the leaf blowing again :-)
It is still very early in the season; I would guess that maybe 10% of the leaves have dropped. Jim is out there several times a day with his push broom and rake, trying to get every last leaf. It's good exercise and gives him a focus, but it is causing him way too much anxiety. He frets during the evening about what the driveway will look like the next morning. And, when the leaves really start falling, he would really be in trouble trying to keep it all spotless with the broom and the rake. We shall see.
So goes another week in the world of Jim and Carole. As always dear readers, thanks for stopping by!