I've mentioned before the difficulty Jim has getting ready for the day. He struggles through the process, often saying "I don't know what to do next.". The hardest part for him has been getting dressed. He will go through several changes of clothing, sweating profusely, and experiencing a lot of anxiety in trying to pick out his clothing. My efforts to help him during this process have not been helpful to him, and seem to only add to his anxiety.
I made a wonderful discovery that seems to help! When he first gets up, he has a couple cups of coffee while watching Morning Joe on TV. While he is sitting on the sofa watching TV, I quietly go into our bedroom, make the bed (an unmade bed is unsettling to him), and lay out his clothing for the day. I then hang a fresh towel by the shower, and put his toothbrush and shaver on the bathroom counter.
I had no idea! I've done this for the last 4 days, and it has worked beautifully. Apparently my presence while he was trying to pick out his clothing just added to how overwhelmed he felt. Now he walks into the room, everything is laid out for him, removing the anxiety producing effort of clothing selection. Such a simple solution that is working well, at least for now.
About a week ago, I had a precious few hours to myself when his friend Mike came by and picked Jim up for lunch. This week it was not successful. In no uncertain terms, Jim made it clear that he did not want to spend time with Mike. It sure was disappointing to me.
Jim is sticking to me like glue these days. As his dementia progresses I'm guessing that his anxiety is worsening as well. Perhaps he finds greater comfort in staying close to me. I'm finding the patience however, as I know that his appointment is coming soon. Once his anxiety is better controlled, I'm guessing that he'll tolerate being away from me for a bit.
I've decided to defer scheduling any appointments or making any firm plans for myself, until this can get resolved.
Yesterday I suggested that he check our mailbox to see if any mail was delivered. He happily agreed, put on his jacket and walked out the door. (Side note: I never worry about Jim wandering off. He is fearful of getting lost and would never wander off without me.) Meanwhile, I am taking care of some laundry. Jim comes back into the house:
Jim: "The mailbox is gone!"
Me: "The mailbox is gone?"
Jim: "Yes! I don't know where it is!!"
Me: "Let's go look together."
As we exit the house through the garage Jim walks over to my car.
Jim: "I'll look in your car."
Me: "Let's look at the end of the driveway."
We walked down the driveway together. He seemed absolutely amazed to see the mailbox. I'm not sure what happened. Did he even make it to the end of the driveway the first time? I don't know, but it was another sad reminder of his memory loss of things that were once so familiar.
Jim's eyeglasses were broken beyond repair. They are bifocals, with a slight correction for distance, but primarily used for up close. He has several pair of "readers", but he was insistent that he get a new pair of glasses. I knew this was going to be a challenge.
I timed the xanax so that he would have the most benefit for the car ride and the actual appointment. His eyes were examined, and he picked out a nice pair of glasses, almost identical to his broken ones. Then comes the sticker shock. Frames were $245, and the lens were $310. Ouch!
We returned a week later to pick up the glasses. I timed another xanax to help him through this appointment. Jim tried the glasses on, and long story short, he didn't like them. The optician was very good with Jim (I had given her one of my companion cards). He insisted that the frame was "not straight enough". After many attempts at adjustment, it became clear that Jim was not going home with these glasses.
The next day I called her out of earshot from Jim, and was able to get a refund on the frames, but not on the custom lens. Since then, Jim has asked a couple of times about glasses. I simply say that the optician is trying to locate the exact frame that he wants. I think he will eventually just let it drop. He has some good quality readers for up close, and the distance correction is minor.
The reason for sharing this story is because I surprised myself by how well I handled the eye appointment. In the past, I would have been totally stressed during the appointment with the optician. However, I was internally very calm. I think I am getting better at this. My conversation with myself: "No one died. We all get to go home in one piece, and it is not the end of the world. So just let it go, it just doesn't matter."
And so it goes, another week in the world of dementia. Nothing too exciting or earth shattering. I'm learning so much. As Jim finds his way through this next stage of his life, I'm glad I can be here to share this part of his journey.
Another post is written. Thanks for stopping by. As always, my heart feels lighter to be able to share with my dear readers. Thanks for listening.