Dad and I went out to lunch earlier this week. I asked the waitress for a box for each of us so we could take our leftovers home. Usually I take all the leftovers as dad doesn’t eat leftovers. He gets all his meals in the dining room at his Assisted Living Facility.
As we finished our meal, I told him I would pick up some cannolis to take with us. I would put them in his refrigerator. He pushed away his meal. “I’ll have the cannoli now, he said. I can save the leftovers for later.”
I laughed and gave him the cannoli. He is too thin from losing weight earlier this year. I will do anything to make him eat more. And he does love the cannolis. I cherish our time together and that he has retained his sense of humor.
Today when I visited dad, I didn’t see his newspaper scattered on the floor as it usually is. “Did you get the paper?” I asked. Dad shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t remember if he got it or not. I could see he had been shaved and showered this morning so suspected maybe someone cleaned the room.
I went to the bedroom to open his blinds and let in some light. Dad tends to sit in the dark most of the time if no one opens the blinds. I saw the paper on his bureau and brought it to him. I asked if he wanted to read it and he said no. Instead he got up to use the bathroom.
I sat down to check my blogs on my iPad and dad came back and began reading his paper. Soon it was almost lunchtime at the ALF. I reminded dad that it was time for him to go to the dining room and we got up to go. As we approached the dining area, one of the aides greeted me and we began to talk a minute. Dad stopped walking and looked at us with the “deer in the headlights” look on his face. “Where am I supposed to go?” he asked. I said he was going to the dining room and continued walking to show him the way.
I think dad is frightened when he realizes he doesn’t remember what he was about to do. This is less of a problem when he is alone in his room as he could just sit back down again. I hate to see that fear in his eyes and I thought about it as I was driving home.
Dad doesn’t seem to worry very much. He sleeps well and doesn’t complain. (Mom used to complain that dad didn’t worry and yet she was up much of the night worrying. It was as if she could sleep better if only he would worry more!) But I wondered today if he worries more now that he remembers less.
Or maybe with the Alzheimer’s, he forgets right afterwards that he was confused, and just goes on with his day? A veterinarian once told me that my sick cat wasn’t worried about yesterday or tomorrow. He is always “in the moment” he said – not worrying about the past or the future. I had begun to think that dad was now like that, living in the moment and mostly satisfied. But now I am not sure if his fear lingers or if he wakes up unsure of where he is and momentarily frightened. I hope not. I really want dad to just enjoy the time he has left without worry or fear.