As a child, when my mother was called to school for a conference, we both waited with trepidation for the outcome. What did I do wrong? we wondered. As a parent, I was pleased the teachers always began with positive statements. Now once again I am called, this time to the memory care center. Bob is eating less, he paces and he has become more agitated. Because he is using foul language and he will not cooperate with the nurse who tries to measure his blood pressure, his medications are increased. They want me to understand that he is “failing.”I see that the blond nurse, the one who Bob was willing to trade me in for, merely a few weeks ago, is not smiling and not greeting me with hugs; she has serious information to impart and I feel protective, just as I did at those parent-teacher conferences, ready to make excuses in my head for my children's shortcomings. Bob may be agitated because some residents are coming into his room uninvited. He may not like the food he is served as he eats when we take him to The Village Inn.
But really, he eats less when we are out also; he doesn't eat or ask for snacks as often as he did. Am I deluding myself that he is "holding his own," that he is "doing as well as can be expected" as I say to friends who ask? Does my husband "put on" good behavior when Steve or I visit, because he knows we will take him out for a while?How do I know? Does it matter? We provide pleaseant moments for Bob in an otherwise blank existence. Tomorrow is is 83rd birthday. Today we will go to an Italian restaurant and see if he'll eat pastafagioli or spaghetti marinara which he always like "before."