Joe is a blogger friend with dementia and I regularly read his blog posts for insight into my husband’s thinking. Joe put it exactly when he wrote on Friday: time is no longer a part of my thinking or doing.
Perhaps time is one the most difficult concepts that a caregiver has to wrestle with in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. I observe my husband’s use of time as he tries to keep up and to keep acting normal. His Timex watch tells him not only the time, but all so the day of the week and the date. He insists on having a typed schedule for the day, but then doesn’t refer to it.
Nornal hunger signals do not get to him, but he does check his watch to see if it is time to eat. I have to tell him it is time to shower, time to shave, time to eat breakfast, time to take his pills, time to leave the house. He can then rebel when I tell him it is time to do something. For example he will say I am not taking my pills tonight and then several minutes later you might tell him it is time to take his pills and he will take them!
The caregiver is told to never argue with the loved one. You will just go round and round Yes, they should, but no they won’t. Yes, he said he would do something, but no he is not going to. Your patience is often tested to the limit. Others do not realize the struggles you go through and you do not want to expose others to the difficulties because, I suppose, you appear like a nagging wife or are asking for help yourself. You want to preserve the good name of your loved one.You try to be wise, establish those routines and plan as best as you can.
Since our loved ones do not have a sense of time and responsibility, you often can capitalize on the attributes that they do have. They can be occupied with what they love to do. Our Alzheimer’s friend Jake loves yard work and being occupied productively. He will not remember all he has done even when you show him visually what he accomplished, but he is very happy with the doing.
My husband will want to do what the group is doing and what his friends are doing. He absolutely loves being a dog owner. Does this sound like childish behavior? Yes. Can I treat him like a child? No. That will not go over well.
My days as a caregiver are spent “going with the flow” and "flowing" with whatever. My responsibilities have increased and bitterness can set in. However, my husband did not ask for this disease, and I am often doing the best I can under the circumstances. I cannot afford to be bitter. I just need to get better--better at managing time myself and finding opportunities to grow in my faith.
I have referred to The Daily Audio Bible on this blog and for years have been going through the Bible this way, listening and often reading along. Yesterday morning one passage was in Mark 6:30-56. Jesus had just fed the 5000 from five loaves of bread and two fishes. Mark is interesting because of the word immediately in many verses including vs. 45. Then immediately another emergency came up for Jesus and the disciples--it was windy on the sea. Jesus calms the sea and says in verse 50, It is I; do not be afraid. Verses 51 and 52 follow:
Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.LORD, do not harden my heart. Help me understand immediately when my patience is tried that you are there to calm the seas. My husband may not do something immediately, but you are immediately there for me. Help me remember about those loaves. Do not harden my heart.