My wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 5 years ago. The progression has been quite slow, and she is still capable of doing many things – she likes to read, set the table, watch nature shows on TV with me and attend social gatherings where she ‘makes the rounds’ talking to people quite appropriately.
I have been sleeping in the guestroom for a couple of years because Jane goes to bed at 9 and I stay up until after midnight. This is my time to listen to music, write in my journal or just ‘be’. Before I get into bed, I put my wallet and car keys on the top of the dresser. In the morning, I put everything back in my pockets and make the bed as best I can before starting my day.
Lately Jane has been preparing the guest room for guests – friends who are not really coming. She straightens the bed, dusts the dresser, and tidies things up, as she has always done. The difference is that there are no friends who are coming to stay with us.
Initially I corrected her each time she did this. I would say, “We don’t have any friends coming, dear. You don’t need to do this.” All this did was get her upset and angry at me, which made me upset at her! After she did this many times, I gave up and let her go ahead and clean the guestroom. It wasn’t hurting anyone and she seemed to enjoy it.
But the last time she did this, she took my wallet off of the dresser in the guest room. I couldn’t find my wallet anywhere! It was nowhere to be found. I asked her what she did with it and of course, she didn’t remember. I searched for my wallet for 2 days, panicking more and more each day because my wallet had my driver’s license, insurance cards and credit cards in it.
On the 3rd day, I found it! It was wrapped in Jane’s scarf that was lying on her dresser. Phew, what a relief! What possessed me to look under her scarf? Why didn’t I look there before? I will never know. But as I thought about it, I think Jane wrapped it in the scarf to keep it safe. After finding it, I said to Jane “Look, Jane, I found my wallet. Do you remember putting it here?” And once again, she denied that she put it there. Lessons learned: Don’t leave my things lying around. Don’t expect Jane to remember. After all, she has Alzheimer’s disease.