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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Visiting Wife is Here April 17, 2014

Just as new parents and grandparents tell all who will listen of the ingenious feats of their newest family members, we caregivers of Alzheimer's diseased spouses and parents reduce the tension in our lives and in our support meetings by recounting the antics of our loved ones. For example when my Mom had Alzheimer's disease and was in the middle stage of the disease she no longer could hostess or prepare food for herself or others, but when she greeted vistors she always continued to ask "Can I get you anything?" I tell this story as well as the fact that Mom could play the piano "get music out of that" which is what she would say anytime she saw a piano.Then she would sit at the piano and play parts of classical pieces she recalled until three months before she died.

My husband has been in out of home placement due to his agitation, aggression and violent behavior for three years now. I visit daily and my son visits at least once each week when I am in town and more frequently if I am away. We did not know for a while whether my husband recognizes us still, as his speech is less intelligible all the time and he no longer calls us by name. He hold his arms out for a hug whenever anyone comes to visit him or the other residents who have been at the home with him for a
significant period of time.His speech is usually clear only when he needs something such as food or assistance in the bathroom. This in itself is amazing. He sounds just like his pre-Alzheimer's disease self when he is demanding. Sometimes he asks for a banana or an apple, milk or coffee specifically. Mostly he says "I'm hungry."

With me he directs me to walk, to "get up" if I sit. "Let's get out of here" is still a favorite refrain but when we do leave the premises his wish is to return quickly to the comfort of his familiar surroundings."Let's go back" he will state clearly. Sometimes he is annoyed with the leaves that have fallen on the path or the sidewalk or with the temperature. "It's too hot," he will say or "I'm cold."
He is quite anxious lately and seems to need to walk all the time except whe he naps.

So we were really amazed this week, when Steve entered the unit, saw my husband walking, greeted him and said "Look who I brought with me." My husband turned, saw me, turned back to Steve and said, "The visiting wife is here." So now I have the validation I have been seeking for several months. Inside his head and his heart, sometimes, my husband still knows who I am and that knowledge makes it all worthwhile and lifts my spirits.

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