Thank you for joining me. . .
. . .you are my sunshine!!
Have you as a caregiver encountered any communication issues recently? If you realize it could happen along your path, maybe you can reduce your stress and worry by knowing others struggle with this as well!
Eleven months ago, when I wrote about it here on this site, I asked, “Where Do The Missing Words Go?”
Back then, My Love was beginning to have serious problems finding words to explain his thoughts.
I wondered how terrible it must feel to be unable to ‘call up words on demand’ to speak your thoughts. At that time, if no other way worked, he used charades, a concept replacing the word with an idea, communicated via an ‘acting’ mode.
Memory loss is not just forgetting where you put the keys, not just taking longer to think of a friend’s name, not just bringing home eggs when you meant to buy bread. I have witnessed My Love’s Alzheimer’s brain, the boss of the bodily functions, destroy his abilities on all levels, bit by bit, nipping at a life that once emanated from the person, the life that once dazzled the world with vitality. His lost words are just like his weakening ability to walk, and his body’s confusion about when he is supposed to sleep.
I know how frustrating it is when I cannot magically find ‘that one word’ to describe what I am trying to convey. But to lose connection to all our words must be more than discouraging, unless of course, you have memory loss, plus anosognosia, and don’t know it is happening.
In the months since I told about My Love’s word finding difficulties, his Alzheimer’s has progressed. His memories and recognition of his daily surroundings, have all but disappeared right along with his words. He can no longer use charades because the concept does not seem to be able to transmit to the ‘acting’ part of his brain.
On the other hand, now I must try acting out what I am asking of him. For instance, to take his pills, I put one pill in my hand and raise it to my mouth…wait for him to follow. Then I put the glass of juice in my hand and lift it, to show to drink it with the pill…wait for him to follow. Sometimes he does not understand this and I must take the glass, put it in his hand and lift both hand and glass to his mouth to get him to grasp what I try to say with words. And sometimes, it is more complicated than ‘acting out’ with pills!
Caregiving just takes a great deal of patience, counting to ten, being able to be flexible, going with the flow, one moment at a time. I aim at being kind, knowing I do the best I can with what I know at the time. 🥰
It is incredible to note how common it has become when one sentence cannot be completed. Like a child, the sounds come, one or two at a time. But My Love’s 81-year-old sounds are not necessarily recognizable as words anymore. The attempts are there. He realizes, momentarily, when he cannot find the right word. And then he tries again…not remembering that he tried to find that word just moments earlier. I am aware of his brief frustration from word loss; but, that, too, disappears quickly.
Sadly, the magic of my soul needs recharging. Yes, I become impatient listening, but I do try to help by suggesting words— it is hard to find words he understands! He does not even understand when I try to act out the words. The connections are definitely disrupted.
It is my job, me, My Love’s partner and caregiver of over eight years, to step in, with a smile and laughter, to bring life back into his face, vitality into his life. I guess at the words he cannot find, as if I could magically discover his thoughts and say them out loud…but my magic wand does not always work!
It has become difficult for him to give me a clue. His ability to get the thought from his mind to his mouth seems to have been cut short by the brain areas that control those complex functions. The available means to tell me have diminished and, as a result, so do our conversations.
My Love may be losing many of his words, but he does still have feelings. He still can laugh, he still looks at me with a heart-felt, kind smile, a sense of thankfulness that I am there, an uncertain awareness of what is going on around him. Yes, even if he cannot explain them, he still has feelings.
At times, I chuckle when I respond to him with what I guess he might be saying—he still has his scripts, so deeply embedded, that his response will invariably be, ‘right,’ or ‘I know’ or a nod of the head, even when the answer I give could not possibly be correct!
Every so often, I wonder if I can keep my caregiving magic alive during the later stages of Alzheimer’s. I have been told it will become harder to communicate as we walk the later steps of this journey together…I, too, am learning! But like I have done since day one, I will remain My Love’s ally and partner, his caregiver, regardless of what I am asked to do.
I can’t stop… even if I am getting tired…it is time to get the wizardry back into my life and get the magic, beginning to flicker in that wand, recharged!
🌞I hope this little update of a caregiver’s life in the world of Alzheimer’s magically melts away some stress for you today!!🌞
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Flickering Magic! (c) 2020 Judith Allen Shone