Fraying at the Edges
I went over the NY Times article again, which I mentioned in a prior post last month, and made notes or underlined passages. “A” is a quote from the article. “N” is the note I made:
A: “…That’s executive function. In effect, you lose the sequence of steps in a process. Like a man who begins shaving while neglecting to use shaving cream.”
N: Mom can no longer paint a wall.
A: “Her doctor put her on Aricept.”
A: “She abandoned drinking.”
N: I wish.
A: “Her relationship with her mother was fraught with difficulties…”
N: Mom talks increasingly about her poor relationship with her mom while she grew up. Regression?
A: “Certainly words became irretrievable…”
N: ‘What’s the name of that blue stuff you clean with?’
A: “She had trouble with elapsed time… The concept of how long it takes to do something had been lost.”
N: Huge! Everything takes ‘forever.’ She gets rude with waitresses because she doesn’t recall it’s only been 6 minutes since she placed her order.
A: “And you’ll say, ‘Well, write it down.’ But then I’ll look at the piece of paper and wonder, ‘What is that?'”
N: There are times mom takes notes for herself on her calendar, and then asks me about what she’s already written down because she doesn’t recall that she’s made the note.
A: “He hadn’t balanced it (checkbook) in months. He had written checks to charities he never supported…”
A: (regarding a toaster) “She would leave things in it. Once a bagel caught fire.”
N: Mom’s leaves the (gas) stove on.
A: “She had problems with sequences”
N: This is why mom can’t paint (or edit) any longer.
A: “The governor is gone.” “…you say what you want to say. You’re not concerned about hurting other people’s feelings.”
N: Mom’s filters are gone. She gets angry/accusatory over nothing.
A: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
N: Love this.
A: “Her gait changed…weaving”
A: “I don’t try to do current events.”
N: Despite watching the news daily, mom doesn’t keep current events in her head (the election fiasco aside).
A: “I go into a store now, there’s too much. I can’t distinguish among things.”
N: Any big store overwhelms mom.
A: ” One thing nagging at her was finding purpose in her life.”
N: Dementia and my father’s death have stripped my mom of self-direction, drive and purpose. She is solely routine driven with tiny blips of social contact with those she hasn’t driven away. And even then, she has started missing engagements because she forgets how to get to where the luncheon or appointment is.
A: “…because I will end up calling the same person or sending the same email twice.”
N: Mom has been doing this since 2004.
A: “At least once a week something will fluster me and I’ll say, ‘This is ridiculous, and I’m going to write a letter.'”
N: Substitute ‘fluster’ with ‘infuriate.’
A: “…simplifying her book choices…”
N: Mom can’t stick with novels any more. I send her books that work.
A: “…constantly checking my things when I’m out…watch, glasses…”
A: “I can’t mange the bills.”
A: “And most of the time you can sing!”
A: “I’ve gone from being a cookie person to a cookie every day and sometimes two cookies a day.”
N: Mom can never finish her meal, but always has room for sweets afterwards!
A: Right away, Ms. Taylor had started trawling the Internet…”
N: Mom has forgotten that she used to know how to get online.
A: “…and would forget what day or month it was.”
N: Mom’s been doing this for years.
A: “Never ask several questions at the same time.”
A: “I just give the bill to who I’m eating with and tell them to figure out the tip.”
N: Mom asks me how much to tip.
A: “I just got confused.”
N: Interestingly, while mom denies her disease, when she has a ‘moment,’ she easily says this.
A: “Ms. Taylor could no longer prepare even rudimentary dishes without consulting the instructions on the package.”
N: Mom seems to cook for herself just fine. She, however, has forgotten how to make certain things she taught me 30 years ago, and doesn’t know that she’s forgotten.
A: (Regarding difficulties of holding conversations) “So, the conversations become very stilted…”
N: Mom will tangent ANY conversation back to one of her dialogues: Her mother, driving in LA, the ranch, etc.
A: “…a woman who couldn’t remember where different dishes were stored, so she put glass doors on the cabinets…”
A: “My appetite is getting diminished and picky.”
N: I see that with mom everywhere except her home.
A: “I was writing a check and I looked at it and it wasn’t that it was messy, it wasn’t all the right things.”
N: Mom voids a lot of checks.
A: (the subject of the article) “…wondered what would fill her days.”
N: My mom is unable to ‘follow processes’ any longer. She can’t plant a new shrub due to the steps involved. Her days are confined.