Jun 9, 2010

Dotty and Bobby We Miss Our Little Cacoon

I now realize that Dotty and I, together, have created our own little cacoon.....
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Dotty and I had to move out of our condo for a few days. This happened because they found termites in the wood rain runners on the roof. Right now out entire building is covered by a giant tent.

Needless to say, I was extremely worried about what effect the move might have on Dotty, her health and her behavior.

As an Alzheimer's caregiver these kinds of situations can be a bit disheartening. If Dotty were in better health I would have turned this situation into a vacation. We could have gone up North and visited family and friends. I know this would have had a very positive effect on Dotty in days gone by.

I thought about the trip quite a bit. I was not worried about getting to and from the airport and onto the plane for the trip. I did worry about what effect the traveling might have on her. In addition, I realize that if Dotty were to get sick while we were on the trip that I would have to deal with all new doctors that were unfamiliar with her and her history. It really comes down to risk and reward. I decided the risks out weighed the rewards. No trip.

Next, I was forced to consider more limited alternatives. Would Dotty hold up physically and mentally while staying in a hotel down on the beach here in Delray? The thought of Dotty looking at the ocean and sitting at Boston's on the Beach were very pleasant to me. I liked that vision. On the other hand, I could drive her down there anytime I wanted and accomplish that mission.

How would Dotty do staying in a hotel room? I really didn't like thinking about what it would be like if things went poorly.

Finally, I was able to obtain a condo right in our own community. This seemed to me to be the best alternative. This would bring the least amount of change, and the greatest amount of stability.

It turns out based on our experience so far this was a very good decision under very trying circumstances.

I can say that so far this has been a very educational experience. I am constantly reminded about Dotty's short term memory. Each time we walk out the door, or return to our short term condo, I have to explain to Dotty what is going on. She doesn't like the idea half the time, and she likes the idea half the time. Welcome to Alzheimer's World.

She has been asking me repeatedly when we can go home. She also asked me last night why we don't move into the place where we are staying. She told me she would rather live in the new condo. Five times this moring she asked me when we could go home and that she didn't like staying in this new place.

Almost seven long years as a caregiver and my how times have changed. I don't find Dotty's behavior in any way disconcerting. I expected every thing that has happened so far. Instead of getting frustrated, angry, or bent out of shape I find it easy to constantly reasure Dotty and explain to her in a way that makes sense what is going on.

I do find it a little tough on my heart. I don't like the idea of Dotty being confused or unsettled. I just don't like the way it makes me feel. Not that I didn't anticipate this also.

It is not all bad. Our wonderful friend Josephine had a nice luncheon with six of Dotty's old friends yesterday. She told me this morning that Dotty remembers all of it. Fat chance. However, I have learned not to "crap" on anyone's parade, in this case Josephine, so I tell her I am happy to hear this. After all, she is being to kind to Dotty and me. Would I really gain anything from trying to explain to Josephine that there is no chance that Dotty remembers? No. Part of the metamorposis of good and effective caregiver.

Josephine insisted on making breakfast for Dotty and me this morning. She asked Dotty what she wanted and many of you already know the answer -- eggs. I had Cheerios for the first time in 30 years. They tasted good and I fully expect to have them again around 2040.

Observing Dotty and her behavior in this new and different environment is really eye opening for me. I am seeing lots of the behaviors that I dealt with frequently years ago. I am getting a better idea of what it is like for an Alzheimer's caregiver with less experience. I can still understand and feel what it could be like to get bent out of shape.

I now realize that Dotty and I, together, have created our own little cacoon. It seems to me that this is a good thing and the way to go. We are both looking forward to getting back into our cacoon late Thursday evening.

I guess you could say, I think we are really lucky and fortunte. Probably the best that anyone could ask and hope for when dealing with Alzheimr's disease.

I'll have more to say about this experience when we get our feet back on the ground.

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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,510 articles with more than 8,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room