Our intro into Alzheimer’s

I really don’t remember when it first dawned on me that my wife’s behavior was changing. In hindsight, I think it began several years before it really became apparent to me, although I think my family could see it before I did!

This Alzheimer’s part of our story really started in late 2016, when my wife and I decided to have one last, short, overseas holiday,

A cruise to Japan and a quick bus tour in China seemed appropriate. And it was. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise but, halfway through the land journey, we both succumbed to the ‘flu’. Mine was tolerable and I began recovery but my wife’s health deteriorated rapidly and she was put into intensive care for three days in Beijing. Then she was in and out of a coma for four weeks before being evacuated back home to a Melbourne hospital. As she strengthened, medical advice was to transfer her for rehabilitation at a clinic. I could see then that the prospect of having her home again was bleak – but, the medicos and my family reluctantly agreed that I could try at home first. And it worked! We survived and had some quality times with help, here at home, for nearly two years. The next part of my journey is told elsewhere on this site.

Cooking for one

When you live alone……. 
The first and most critical aspect is looking after yourself. That must be right, everyone keeps telling me!   And one important aspect of that is eating the right food – and that’s a whole new adventure, or misadventure, for me!

Shopping and cooking for one is an art not easily acquired, yet, by me.

Those delivered trays of fresh meals we were using, when my wife was still at home with me, were great but are now just too big for one person. The half-tray left-overs are not very appetising!

I have put eating as the first priority topic because it must be right up there if you are living alone and are going to survive! Eating well, we are told, should mean eating healthily and with enjoyment.

If your wife or partner has always done the cooking and the food shopping, then you may need to do more than just long hard thinking and, like me, get on with it!

For the previous two years or so, before my wife went into care, I had already ‘taken over’ the kitchen/cooking duties as she was quite unsafe around hot plates and utensils. But I cheated! And we could afford it and even that has changed! 
I also know my culinary limitations so, during that time, we mostly had the main ‘meal of the day’ delivered fortnightly.

I would phone the service we had chosen with a selection of about ten meals from their list. The freshly prepared cooked meals arrived at the door in small trays which were just the right size for two people. We’d put three of those meals in the fridge and freeze the rest. 
I also ordered a small number of desserts to freeze and have occasionally as a treat!

That meant the evening meal for the first week could be provided from the fridge. After they’d gone, all I had to do was remember to pull out the next evening meal from the freezer early enough, like after breakfast (how many times did I forget?). 
Just a few minutes in the microwave and ‘hey presto!’. A nice hot meal.

On the other nights when we didn’t have a pre-pack meal, I prepared a simple meal: the odd stew or salad, or sausages and some mixed vegetables. * Spuds are easy to prepare and serve as pieces or as mashed for variety (!), * and mixed frozen vegies are good….. for a change add another ‘course’…., * and enjoy some soup (well, mostly canned!) and * a scoop of ice-cream from a 1 litre pack (even add a little topping!). These days, I still use the same techniques, just smaller serves and, as before, try to always to eat a couple of pieces of fresh fruit during the day, like oranges, apples, and bananas, sometimes grapes or something else that’s in season.

Meals are bit different now! With my wife now in full-time care, I only have one mouth to feed and that changes everything to do with food, menus, shopping, food storage AND cooking!  I still use some pre-packed food but these are now from the supermarket. Now I am finally and slowly learning to prepare a small meal with more than three ingredients! And I still try to apply the same principles of healthy eating that I used when we were living as a couple. Like many men of my generation I have been thoroughly spoiled over the years and I never needed or learned to cook. I am so proud of my boys, and my daughter’s husband, who often take on so many jobs including cooking that were, sadly in earlier unenlightened days, only done by the wives.