Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Pretty Good Week

Jim's riding lawnmower essentially died, requiring the purchase of a new one. I was busy this past week and weekend getting ready for and co-hosting a wedding shower for one of my nieces, as well as helping my elderly mother. Normally I would have accompanied him to Lowe's,  just to be in a supportive role. But circumstances did not allow for this.

I knew something was slightly amiss when he called me with the question of which credit card he should use. Told him it was OK to use either one. He replied "I didn't know if we had enough left on the cards". I didn't really understand what he meant by that, but it seemed like he was looking for direction, so I told him to use the blue American Express card.

Jim and I have never carried any debt, other than a mortgage. We have always paid our credit card bills in full every month. He knows this, at least he used to know this. I've been doing all the finances, including managing our investments for the past several years. I always discuss updates with him to make sure he feels like he is still in the loop. But honestly, I don't think he would ask if I didn't bring it up.

When we connected at home later in the day, he attempted to articulate some problem with making the purchase of the lawnmower. It was so unclear to me what he was explaining, that I just kind of listened, and reminded myself of why I need to go with him for these kinds of purchases. The next morning I heard him on the phone engaged in a confusing conversation with someone from Lowe's. I'm guessing that sales people must run into this time to time. In the end it all worked out. Two days later the new lawnmower was delivered.

One of my favorite bloggers recently wrote about the uncertainty of knowing exactly where her husband is in his progression of dementia.  I relate to that; the need to know where we are at, what does the future look like, how will this play out, and how will it all end. But that is not how life works, of course.

Jim actually seems stable at the moment. Will he stay this way for a long time? I hope so, because this seems doable. I am getting better at knowing how to respond and how to make things less stressful. For both of us! Life is good. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

"What is My Birthdate?"

It seemed like such a simple question, but it was so sad to hear him ask it. Jim approached me last night with his driver's license in hand. The following conversation ensued:

Jim: "When is my birthdate?"

Me :"January 20, 1949"

Jim: "No, when is my birthdate?"

Me: "Your birthdate is January 20, 1949."

Jim: "No...(long pause) I mean....(long pause)"

Me: "You mean how old are you?"

Jim: "Yes! That's what I asked!"

Me: "You are 67."

He struggles with finding the right words. Not always, but sometimes. Sometimes he will say something brilliant! He cannot handle phone conversations that involve any kind of complexity. Yesterday he asked me to call to change the date and time of a Dr. appointment.

He can no longer operate the thermostat, cannot operate our new washer and dryer; the list goes on.

The other day he was struggling with the TV remote and asked for my help. After I helped him he said "My brain! What would I do without you!" But these moments of insight are rare.

The other night we were waiting in a restaurant for our takeout order. He blew me an air-kiss (goofy lovey-dovey thing we do at home). I said "I think the waitress just saw you do that." He said "do what?" I said"blow me an air-kiss". He said" I didn't just do that!" I let it drop, because what is the point. He doesn't remember. Less than 10 seconds ago. So sad.

Since we have been back from FL, I think he actually functions a little better. I have read that it is important to keep everything as consistent as possible. It makes me seriously rethink all our plans to travel. Kind of hoping for a Northern California this fall and London next spring. Just don't know if I have it in me to handle all the stress it will generate for him.

I'm getting good at NOT saying "don't you remember...?" because obviously he doesn't! I also am good at not showing shock when he can't remember his age, phone #, address etc.

He trusts me, and that is everything. He is so appreciative of everything I help him with.

Life is still good, and I am grateful for his love.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Police at Our House!

Last summer we decided to put in a security system to monitor our home while we are away during the winter months. It seemed like a good idea; we could monitor the thermostat remotely to make sure the furnace was working and the security system would alert if someone entered via door or window, or if motion detectors were tripped. We actually live in a very safe neighborhood, but being gone for 3 months seemed like a long time to rely on friends/neighbors to check on our house periodically.

We use the system at night as well, putting it in the "arm stay" mode. This turns off the motion detector, but will alarm if doors or windows are opened.

I realized last fall that Jim is not able to arm or disarm the system without looking at a very short list of instructions. It's pretty basic; 3 steps for arming and 2 steps for disarming. (Example: disarming requires touching the red bar and then entering our password.) Our password is one that we have used for years for our garage door opener. Every morning and every evening I always ask him if he wants to arm/disarm, or if I should do it. He always says, I'll do it, but you watch me. He faithfully puts on his reading glasses and pulls out the instructions, and proceeds to do it under my watch.

Well, the other morning he awoke before I did, and according to him, he saw "a lot of smoke" outside. He opened an outside door to check it out, and you guessed it, the alarm went off. (The smoke he saw was simply the vent for our gas furnace to the outside.)

Meanwhile, I awaken. I am still not quite awake, but Jim starts to tell me that "the smoke alarm went off" (it didn't) and "I went outside to check out the smoke I saw". Next thing I know the police are knocking at our door. I'm still fuzzy trying to figure out what had happened (after all, it is only 6:00AM). The police were very nice, said don't worry, these things happen. Sigh.

I finally figured out that what Jim thought was the smoke alarm was actually the security alarm that went off when he opened the outside door. He felt bad afterwards. I tried to make light of it so he wouldn't worry about it. I think it really made a huge impression on him, with the police showing up. The next day he was still talking about it, and saying he would from now on make sure that the alarm system was off before he opened any doors in the morning. I encouraged him to wake me up, if I was still sleeping so that we could "do it together". He liked that idea :-)

More and more I am filtering almost everything, trying to evaluate how decisions will impact Jim. I'm getting better at it, I think. It's not just for Jim's sake, but for mine as well. Easy does it, one day at a time, keep your cool.  So cliche, but so true.