You know, progression is progression. It is movement. Getting from A to B. From the beginning to the end. Our lives are ones of progression. From birth to death. We make progress in so many things, in all areas of our lives, at our own rate. Some seem born “an old soul” and some are the “eternal teenager.” I like to joke that many grow older, only a few also grow wiser. Ha-Ha.
The doctor told me that my Mom was progressing in this experience of Alzheimer’s. And that she is. The rate of progression is what is flooring me. Once she said Mom was progressing, it seems like it has sped up. I am not sure if it is because it was brought to my attention, or if things are speeding up. I noticed how little Mom is able to function in public when we had to deal with her dog bite, the stitches, and working with an OT to come up with something Mom would not take off, so her skin could heal. She could not recall she had been bitten, had stitches, or who this guy was, coming in and out of the room like he knew her! LOL. It was interesting, because my husband was with me and got to see it, too. So I know I was not exaggerating or making things up in my head. She had no concept of what was going on, but would give pithy comments, trying to make people laugh and forget she was clueless. Mom is what they call a very “social” Alzheimer’s patient. She can fool people pretty much all the time in public places. But once you sit with her for a couple of minutes, you know there is a problem.
And today, it became so obvious. Mom is having trouble determining color. She thinks blue, black, brown, purple, forest green…you get it…the darker colors, are all black. Helping her choose clothing is becoming quite the production. Sigh. She had a proper temper tantrum today. She had chosen some adorable summer capris a few months ago, but now she will not wear them because they are not long enough, and she says it is not summer. Today she saw clouds. So in her mind, clouds = rain = cold. So, her outfit ended up being long, black pants, knee-high trouser socks, undershirt, long sleeved blouse, a cardigan sweater just in case, and open-toed shoes (Yeah, with socks). Now, I am not sure if you know this or not, but we live in Alaska. There is an ongoing debate about how hot it is in the summertime for us, compared to some of the Lower 48 states. Suffice it to say, 75 is a hot day. Just trust me. It was a capri and flip-flop day, complete with the A/C in the car. But not for Mom. The decision-making took over 45 minutes. But I learned which clothes I can get rid of, and which ones we keep. Her closet is shrinking. So that is sort of a win-win. Mom got to wear her black slacks, and I know which clothes I can toss.
And then we had to shower. Since she has lived with us, each time she showers all I hear about is how she always (she speaks in superlatives and I have learned to let it go…well, I am learning to let it go) had showers with a hand-held shower head. We finally got one when we got her incontinence supplies and my wonderful husband installed it this weekend. My walls were soaked. The floor was soaked. I was soaked. The bathmat could seriously not hold another drop of water. Mom had no idea how to use this device. I learned quickly that I will be the one using it. Honestly, the only thing she used it for was to rinse herself, especially the nether regions. I had to remind her to use soap. And shampoo. And each time I spoke to her, she would turn and spray the water in the direction she was facing. I finally took it from her (telling her I would help her rinse off) and directed the process.
And then it was time to put on her make up. I have come to realize the brows are so dark and exaggerated in part because she cannot see very well, but also because who she sees in the mirror is about 65 years younger than she really is. Regardless of what is going on in her head, and her hand as she applies all her powders, etc it is a process. The progression is very slow.
Finally, we were ready to leave. It was 4:00pm when we backed out of the garage. It had taken my Mom 4 hours to get ready to leave. This was a new Alzheimer’s World Record. And people like doctors and others laugh when I tell them 3pm is early for an appointment! They truly have no idea.
Our shopping spree to Mom’s favorite thrift shop in search of more appropriate clothing yielded 4 blouses and a pair of slacks. And it took 2-plus hours. She was exhausted. And funnily enough, so hot she asked me to put down the windows and had no objection when I finally closed them and blasted the A/C…it was 75-degrees and my car was boiling. But that was all for the day. The processes we had to go through to yield the new clothing had taken their toll, and she just could not function any longer. I drove through Panda Express and got her favorite String Bean Chicken (its mine, too) and we went home. It took her over 2 hours to eat. She was just so tired. It is now 10:30pm and she is finally in bed. And I am wide awake, musing over all of this day, and how truly far she has progressed in such a short time. I am stunned, actually. She said she just wanted to be home. Usually, she loves to shop. Loves interacting with people. Not today. Not today. And maybe not tomorrow. It is our new reality. I am struggling with it.
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1