I’ve wanted to get on here and write for a few weeks but besides being monopolized by my new Instagram shop, I’ve been having internet/ wifi problems AGAIN. Those aren’t the only reasons why I haven’t been around. It’s been a rough couple of weeks taking care of Mom. I can see her getting a bit worse every day. It’s not a huge difference but it is noticeable to me. I was trying to find humor in it but it doesn’t come as naturally as you might think. I started a top ten list of ways that a person with Alzheimer’s is like a toddler but then couldn’t limit it to only 10! I told you I’d be doing an update here and there so people know what I’m dealing with. Not to get sympathy but just to vent. Last Tues. I talked to my postal friend Doreen in Milwaukee for an hour and a half. That was the first time we’d talked since last April. We used to talk every few weeks or once a month. It’s just really hard to carve out any time for things for myself. I get so many interruptions and distractions while caring for Mom that it’s just easier not to try. This time I did it while she was napping. It was so great to catch up a bit but we both spent time talking about the health of our mothers. She’s 3 years older than me yet her mom is only 80. Mine is going to be 93 next month. Her mom has physical health problems which is no picnic either. As much as I enjoyed talking to her, it was somewhat depressing since I don’t usually vocalize what I’m dealing with.
When I say Mom’s getting worse, I mean incrementally. I try to have her do as much for herself as she can but I notice she wants to do less all the time. I always have her cereal bowl, juice, pills and banana laid out for her in the morning. I lay out her clothes but let her dress herself. At night when I get her ready for bed, I find out she’s been wearing her bra inside out. When she comes downstairs, she’s always been able to open and slice her banana, put cereal on it and add her milk, etc. Lately, she has tried adding coffee to her apple juice by mistake and claims she can’t open her banana or slice it. So I open it and cut it up. Then she wants me to put the cereal in the bowl and add the milk and carry it in the other room for her. I don’t mind doing it but feel like she still can do it but is being lazy.
My list of ways that a person with Alzheimer’s is like a toddler:
They can’t verbalize their wants and needs. They may point but are unable to let you know what they want at any given time. If they could just ask, life would be so much simpler.
They try to get away without doing what they’re told. You can repeat yourself every 5 minutes or every 5 seconds, they’re not going to do what you tell them to do. Unless you stand over them and make them do it and even then they might put up a fuss.
Their balance is unsteady like they’re just learning to walk. They have trouble getting up and then grab anything nearby (a piece of furniture or the wall) to steady themselves.
They hate baths, haircuts and having their fingernails/toenails cut. They protest and may even fight you. They act like they don’t trust you even though you’ve never drawn blood. They can’t hold their head still when you’re cutting their hair. This leaves them with a less than perfect haircut.
They don’t believe in hygiene. They don’t like washing their hands and think they shouldn’t have to. They never think to do it on their own. They try to do it without using any soap.
They don’t want to finish the food on their plate. They want you to eat it instead. You have to bribe them to eat their food by promising ice cream or some other sweets for dessert.
They love sweets. More so than the rest of the population. If they had their way, they’d only eat ice cream and candy. They can’t come to terms with why that is a bad idea.
When you turn your back, they let the dog eat their food. No matter how many times you tell them not to let the dog eat off their plate or not to give the dog food, they still do it anyway. When you ask why, they say “I don’t know” or “because he wanted it”. This is especially problematic when eating something that is toxic to dogs like grapes or chocolate.
They take naps at the drop of a hat. They spend a good portion of the afternoon and late evening napping. If you’re counting on them falling asleep or specifically tell them to take a nap, they will stay up just to spite you.
They’re oblivious to their bodily functions. The doctor told Mom that the average person goes to the bathroom 6-8 times a day. If I didn’t tell her when to go, she MIGHT go twice a day. I make her go when she gets up, before lunch, before dinner and at bedtime. Sometimes I can get her to go another time if I give her coffee. Even when I tell her to go at these specific times, she’ll say, “But I don’t have to go!” or “I just went 20 min. ago”. Well, I’ve been with her all day and know it was 5 hours ago. It’s so tiresome that we have to do this go around every single time. Her body doesn’t tell her when she needs to go.
They wander off or get into mischief if you’re not watching. Mom doesn’t wander but she does start going into things. She’s curious or doesn’t understand what things are and any paperwork we leave laying around she goes through. I don’t mind since I finally instilled in her NEVER to throw anything away. She went through a spell where she was throwing everything away that she got her hands on. Whether it was hers, mine or Greg’s. I guess it’s a blessing that she’s forgotten where the garbage can is. 😉
They can’t tell time. Mom still wears a watch and CAN tell time but still gets mixed up. If I wake her up from her nap to go to the bathroom before dinner, she sometimes thinks it is bedtime. She is ready to head up to bed at 7 pm. I have to corral her and make her understand that she hasn’t had supper yet.
They forget what you told them 10 seconds ago. If you tell them not to do something, you will have to say it again every 10 seconds until they get a different thought in their head. What’s even weirder is that if we have something to eat and I bring hers in first, then take her plate and bring mine in, she asks where hers is. She can’t remember that she ate it or even was served it just a few minutes before. That’s scary stuff.
They don’t cover their nose or mouth when they sneeze or cough. This is self-explanatory and too gross to go into detail about. I have to constantly tell Mom that there’s kleenex on her right. Or else I run and hand her one. Then I have to tell her not to leave it laying around.
They don’t understand the concept of kleenex. When they get something icky on their hands that they want to get off, they wipe it on anything nearby. Like the strings on the banana, she will wipe on the edge of the counter. Or boogers. EW. I am forever going around cleaning things just to keep my sanity. The toilet seat needs to be cleaned after she uses it every time. If she sees she left a mess on it, she will take her finger and try to wipe it off which just smears it. Then she touches the handle which leaves a mess. One day she didn’t notice the seat was dirty until after she’d washed her hands. Then she was going to wipe it with her clean hand. I stopped her in time that time.
They don’t know how to wipe after using the toilet. They do wipe most of the time but the concept of in front THEN back is lost on them. I sometimes have to physically grab Mom’s arm to keep her from wiping in the front with toilet paper that has shit on it. I worry about her getting an infection from it or worse. I’ve got her using those wet wipes occasionally but I have to supervise. Shouting orders/ instructions which she may or may not listen to.
I’ve never had a toddler, only a relative with Alzheimer’s so I can’t say how accurate my comparison is. It seems like the mentality is the same. Except those with toddlers know that each day, the child will learn more and gradually be able to do more for themselves. I’m on the other end of the spectrum, knowing that each day a little more knowledge is lost. In some ways I feel like I’m doing a disservice by writing this. It seems like things like this should not be told. That acknowledging that they’re happening is giving them power and making them worse. In the meantime, getting this out of my system gives me the strength to cope another day. I want to thank my blog readers for all the support you’ve given me! I will be back soon this week with another post. 🙂