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Friday, June 21, 2013

Reentry June 21, 2013

Happy first day of summer to those of you who do not live in Arizona where it has been summertime for quite a while. I return to 107 degree days and a life fortunately spent in air conditioning. My friends and family greet me warmly although happily for me life goes on well without me being here. Age has that effect I think. Retired, out to pasture, no longer responsible for anything really important.
What I am disappointed about however is that my husband who resides in a memory care facility due to his advanced Alzheimer's disease did not recognize me when I walked in to his room. This is the first absence from which I return to find him unrelated. He doesn't seem to be seeing not only me but the staff who address him either. He speaks mostly incomprehensible syllables, but he makes no eye contact no attempt at having the other person understand what he is saying. Except when he has a problem.
That quality is wonderful in that he gets his needs met. It sounds like a perverse joke, but a worker dressed him this morning and put his underwear on backwards, then tucked his long undershirt inside his underwear, like short-sheeting someone's bed in summer camp!
After indicating to me that he had to "go in there" he entered his bathroom, but returned soon telling me "I can't do this." No wonder. He was soon put to rights, totally accepting of assistance, showing absolutely no affect. What an awful illness this is, the loss of dignity, of independence, of thinking about most anything saddens, amazes, astounds me continually.
My husband spends his days either lying on his bed or someone else's when he doesn't remember which room is his, or following the staff wherever they go. When Steve or I come to visit, he will attach himself to one of us, following us around, and since we have no assigned tasks, he asks "What are we going to do now?" or "Where are we going?" He will play catch for a while, but then he asks, "Why are we doing this?" He is merely being compliant, not enjoying the game.
I move back into my visiting mode, talking with the staff about my husband's care and feeling so helpless that there is nothing more I can do.

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