The last couple days, it has been chilly…that crisp fall air that portends of coming winter… with daytime temps ranging between 7 to 11C and damp, as we expect in fall. Colours are fading and barely hanging to the tree branches, ready to flutter to the ground with the slightest wind.
Yet, My Love has been choosing to wear his short sleeve, summer shirts, even when I was putting out long sleeves for him to consider.
Do I now understand why some senior homes keep their temperatures so warm?
“Are you cold?” I asked. “Do you want me to get your sweater when I get mine?”
“No, no,” he assured me. “I am fine. “
Today, as I passed behind him, and gave him a little love-hug, I felt how cool he was and got his sweater. To my surprise, he was really glad to have it!
“That feels good,” he said, surprised himself that he needed it.
I realized right then that he no longer could tell me he was cold, that when I asked, he could no longer connect my word ‘cold’… with a temperature, a feeling or a doorknob…it meant absolutely nothing to him at that moment.
It is so incredible what bits and pieces of the brain this disease picks away!
I can’t even write the sounds he makes so readers can know how frustrating it is to require extra effort for most recent conversations ! He might say random words; he just cannot say what he seems to want to communicate. More vanishing words! See Where Do the Missing Words Go? here on this site.
I had no idea that loss of temperature recognition was coming! I should have realized it would take words to tell me, but I missed it! I have so much still to learn, even after nearly nine years!
Readers: Tell us about new behaviours have you watched unfold right before your eyes, especially those that you never expected.
This behaviour tells me he either does not feel that he is cold, or he cannot connect the feeling with lower temperature and needing a sweater.
He has always been warmer than me so I was slow on this one! The sad reality is that he cannot tell me…his brain and his words many times now have no idea what I said and cannot tell me what he is thinking…the connections are vanishing, apparently n both directions.
I have an extra blanket on the bed.
“I don’t need a blanket. I am fine,” he repeats his appropriate script that somehow survives: “I am fine.”
After he is asleep, I put a light cover over him, as if he were my two-year-old!
The building managers don’t turn up heat until November here, so I must pay more attention. Now I know not to ask if he is cold, I will just put a sweater on him in the morning or a blanket in the evening until when he seems to need it! He really does need me to guide him in dressing! This is how I find out…not through words!
And so each day, I still learn something new about the brain and the disease that has been stealing bits and pieces of it from My Love for a very long time. It is incredible what these dementia diseases teach us while still helping us develop patience!
Feeling Warm or Cold? Copyright (c) 2020 Judith Allen Shone
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