So, here I am now living alone and recalling some more of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s that I saw developing with Dorothy…..
Like when I spotted her putting an empty saucepan on the switched-on hotplate! And there were so many other, sometimes humourous, sometime scary incidents, such as when she filled the electric jug to the very brim to make two cups of tea! Or when clearing the table after a meal – when everything, pepper and salt included, went in the refrigerator! At times, it was like a mystery tour to find things that were put away in strange places.
Another behaviour was to repeatedly talk about the same person or topic all day. Which meant that, despite the repetition, I needed to listen and process everything said, because it could unexpectedly indicate a change of her mood or actions.
If you have experienced even something of that behaviour with your partner, you will understand how the unpredicted activity can become, not only sad, but annoying and debilitating – and it can seriously affect your ability, as a carer, to think clearly and proactively. Being alert (but not too alarmed) and ready for anything, seemed to be the mantra!
The constancy of Alzheimer’s and that relentless need for vigilance makes it near impossible to plan ahead – or sometimes to even think straight! Ordinary, otherwise normal living skills often become complicated and difficult, for both partners! It can become a major undertaking to simply make a shopping list. Or to remember what it was I planned to do after breakfast, or that night, or when that next appointment is (or was!). ‘Did I hang out the washing?’, and ‘How will I dry the slippers she wore in the shower this morning?’ etc., etc.
We loved each other dearly, and happily enjoyed each other’s company and shared so much joy, and some sad times, during our married life. I must admit though, that in those last years, the changes in Dorothy’s life patterns were accelerating and sometimes unnerving. They were ‘getting at me’, like a constantly dripping tap or a squeaky door hinge. I was constantly tired physically and (shock horror) becoming grumpy!
Earlier, at the time of Dorothy’s mental health assessments, the various doctors and experts involved had explained the extent of her condition and the sort of behaviour patterns I could expect.
So, I had been warned, and even though I knew she would be erratic and unpredictable, yet I doggedly held on to my inbuilt denial that there was any serious change, for a long time. Our kids could see it, and it’s easy for me to see now, in hindsight!