Friday, August 6, 2010

Sensitive Beyond Belief

Yet another episode of Betty being upset by, "how Bob talked to me" and no real explanation as to what was said.  This is becoming more and more frequent and I wonder if it will get even worse.  So far it is mostly Bob, her son.  She has not had as much trouble with me and what I say.  As a witness to what Bob said this morning I knew that his tone was fine and what he said has fine, to us, in Real World.  The rocky road this behavior puts us on seems untenable. We wonder how to talk to Betty in a way that will be acceptable, when it is not possible to agree with EVERYTHING she says or when advising her, per her request,  about something.

I understand on one level that Alzheimer's World is a different place than Real World.  When I sit here and write down what has transpired it all seems somewhat clear but I would be kidding myself to think I am even slightly on top of things.

We have tried the small notebook that she is encouraged to carry in her purse to write down EVERYTHING people tell her or appointments or whatever she wants to recall.  She has misplaced it.  When we asked her about it she goes into the customary excuse mode; I took it out it was heavy, I had to move it and did not put it back, I packed it into my other bag.  NEVER does she say I misplaced it.  I suppose an admission like that would mean she admits memory loss. 

Then there is the calendar with space to journal or keep track of what she ate or where she went, etc.  She talks about it and gets upset when she doesn't use it but when reminded about it...excuse mode. 

Learning to communicate in Alzheimer's World seems more difficult than learning a foreign language.  At least with a foreign language words always mean the same thing, they are not ever-changing. 

I am realizing that it is NOT just Bob's tone of voice that makes Betty sensitive.  It is whether he agrees with her, whether he answers with the same pre-
conceived answer she expects, whether she stops talking long enough to hear him.  That in itself is a problem because by the time he finally gets through to her, when she stops talking, he is practically shouting.  Phone calls can be the hardest.

She claimed today that Bob gave her "the third degree" when she asked yet again for the phone number. In reality, what he said was, "It is in the purple book on the front cover and in the small notebook, front cover."  He told her he did not have the number handy and could not remember it, and said that he would call her back with the number if she wasn't able to find it.  All that sounds reasonable here in Real World.  But, when I called her back an hour later, she went into how upset Bob made her, the way he gave her the third degree.  When I said that Bob did not have the number handy at the time and that I was calling to give it to her, she changed the story to be that it was "OTHER THINGS" he had said. 

Note to myself....there is NO REASONING in Alzheimer's World.
Bob & Betty

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. It means a lot to me. Mary GW