I’m not overreacting? This is real?
Every few days I get to thinking that perhaps I am overreacting. Perhaps my father-in-law’s behavior is not so unusual. Perhaps he really doesn’t have Alzheimer’s. Never mind that he was diagnosed by a doctor after extensive testing.
The thing is, most of our exchanges seem normal and I start to doubt myself. And then, it happens…the odd, unpredictable and often difficult to explain behavior. I still catch myself finding ways to justify it, and I have to ask others to make sure. This is because each isolated event is not so bad and not so unusual. You might tell me he is just getting old or maybe a little eccentric. When you put all the little events together though, it becomes apparent there is a problem.
For example, the other day my father-in-law came home from the senior day care center at 4:15 as usual. He hollered “I’m home!” and I stepped out into the hallway to greet him. It was raining hard outside, so we chatted back and forth about it, and then he went into his room to change. Sumo was on TV, so I knew he would be happy until 6:00 when it finished. I sat back down at my desk and continued working.
A few minutes later he came down the hall calling after me. “Marci? Are you there? Oh! You’re home! I’m home!” He was very happy to see me and even though it’s best to greet him again as if we had not exchanged the same conversation a few minutes before, I couldn’t stop myself. I tried to explain that we had talked when he first got home but he had no memory of it.
About an hour later I heard an odd sound coming from his room like he was filing something. He sometimes files his fingernails or toenails, but this was louder. I was worried. What could he possibly be filing in his bedroom? I tried to ignore it. Then I went to check.
My father-in-law was sitting on the side of his bed filing the end of a plastic handle that used to be attached to a paper bag. This is an important bag, a sturdy paper bag with two plastic handles and the bag he takes every day to the senior day care service.
The bag must have gotten wet from the rain, and one of the handles was no longer attached. He had cut the strip of plastic in the middle, so he now had two pieces of plastic with sharp edges. He was filing the edges so he could somehow reattach the handles to each other and then to the bag. He had good intentions, and I’m sure it was a magnificent plan. I decided not to comment on or ask about the filing. Instead, I brought him a new bag, and he was delighted.
After that, it was quiet for a while, and I guessed he was napping. Then I heard him stirring again and realized he was doing his morning routine. When I checked, he said he had overslept and was running late. It was already after 7:00 and the day care service would be there to pick him up shortly. I stopped him and explained that it was still 7:00 at night. It took a few times before he believed me and we laughed together and continued with the evening.
It might sound strange, but I’m grateful for days like this. They remind me of why the woman from social services recently changed my father-in-law’s assessment resulting in a dramatic increase in support services. I was at first surprised and then grateful. She provided me with unsolicited, outside proof that I am not imagining the progression of his condition. I’m not overreacting. This IS real!
About the Author:
Hi! I'm Marci. When I'm not writing, building websites, or coaching clients, I love walking the streets of Japan and discovering spirit in all shapes and forms. Here on the blog, you'll also get a peek into what it is like to live with and care for my Japanese father-in-law who has Alzheimer’s. Enjoy!