Routine and structure seem to be the anchors that ground a person with Alzheimer’s and this is definitely true of Miss Cathy. She has a set routine and it (more or less) seems to work for her on a daily basis. Most days she’s content with being at home, talking on the phone, taking her nap and watching television. But even within the confines of that familiarity there are the occasional mood swings (usually misplaced anger) that can erupt within the course of a routine day and they are (still) surprising and hurtful but (now) it is about as bad as an unsuspecting pinch on the arm.
I’ve noticed that having a routine can be a double-edged sword because with each day being the same it becomes hard for her to distinguish one from the next. So, occasionally she will forget what day it is but let’s face it, who wouldn’t-living like one of the characters in the movie “Groundhog day”.
Days when she has to venture outside of the condo like a trip to the doctor’s office or to the market can be very stressful for her. Even after a seemingly good day, being out with her girlfriend, Adele she’ll come home pretty much worn out (no matter how “good” a day she’s had). More often than not she’s visibly drained, agitated, and grumpy, leaving me to wonder sometimes how long it will be before she stops venturing out all together.
She does like to busy herself with “projects”, some big, some small. It could be anything from organizing her calendar to going through old paperwork or looking through her closets to find things to donate to charity.
Miss Cathy doesn’t want for much and seems to me to be content to complain just for the sake of hearing her own voice most of the time (and that’s cool, because most of the time I’m only half listening anyway).
Lately thought I’m finding that she will start a project but I’m the one who ends up finishing it, or if I don’t have to finish then I need to make sure that the project’s completed and there are no loose ends to tie up.
The other day I came into the living room to discover that she’d “re-potted” a plant but when I looked down into the new, larger pot I could see that she’d done no more than stuck the plant (crooked) in the larger pot, leaving the roots exposed.
When I called this to her attention she said, “I know, it needs some more soil to fill it in but the bag was too heavy.”
I’m thinking, “Okay, that makes sense but the bag has always been heavy so why even bother?” Unless of course she knew that I would have to finish re-potting the plant in which case that would make her a pretty clever duck.