He is getting worse. Friday he actually seemed to understand basics and I was beginning to hope he was improving. Then he took another of his falls, re-cracking his rib on the side of the tub. By Saturday he was having trouble understanding and maintaining understanding of simple things. It took 4 hours of repetition before he could repeat back to me the game plan for Sunday. Sunday morning he parroted it again, but when I came home Sunday evening he had abandoned-puppy eyes, hadn't eaten all day and clearly had no recollection of our discussion about my day in the city with my friend. This was the first full day away from him in almost a year, and he was like a dog - no comprehension that I would be back.
Today I tried to explain to him that tomorrow I would be driving D back to J's house in NJ, and invited him to come along for the ride. I figured it would be a nice change of scenery for him and it would allow me to keep an eye on him, and he wouldn't be 'abandoned' again so soon. There is a warehouse outlet near J's house where I might be able to pick up some cheap stick-on tiles to redo the kitchen floor, and I'll get the gas money back from D so it looked like a win-win situation. The problem is he couldn't register the full story. First he got dressed, eager as a puppy to go for a ride. I explained again that the trip is tomorrow. Then he wanted to know if D was coming along for the ride. I explained again that taking D back to J was the primary reason for the ride. We went around and around for well over an hour, with him convinced we were going for a joyride today.
I finally became so frustrated I threatened to take him for a ride - right to the VA psych ward - if he persisted in this. Oddly that seemed to shake loose some of the confusion and a little later he was able to parrot back tomorrows itinerary. I don't know if it will stick, but I am determined to take him along tomorrow no matter what, because clearly he cannot be trusted to look after himself alone anymore. He eats when I put food in front of him - it has to be soft these days, as his gums are too tender for anything chewy, and the VA won't replace his dentures, because the teeth problem is not service related. He spends much of his time sleeping, which is good for now, as it allows his body to heal. He takes his meds when I present them to him, and generally gets them all into him, though I still have to check for any that might have fallen out the side as he pours the little cup in his mouth.Today I found one - some days it's three or more.
He is going to be 60 in less than a month, yet is already in worse shape mentally than his father was just before he died. Physically they are almost on par - he can barely walk - his dad had lost a foot to diabetes; he has trouble seeing without the glasses he refuses to wear - his dad was blind from diabetes; he has little quality of life as he can no longer do any of the things he once enjoyed - ditto for dad. So sad considering he isn't all that old.
I am 56, and feeling the beginnings of the arthritis that plagues my family, but I keep active mentally and physically, and don't give in. The stress of being sole care-giver to a spouse who seems to be in the beginnings of premature dementia, however, is telling on my stamina. I need Valerian or some other herbal tea almost every night to get enough sleep to cope. Post menopause sleeplessness, night sweats and mood swings don't help either. Coping with trying to run my little motel single-handed, while keeping him fed, cared for, to his doctor appointments and entertained while keeping him from hurting himself is as much of a full time job as anyone could ask for, but one barely keeps the roof over our heads and the other costs me daily.
So for now he seems to understand that we are staying here today, but will be going to NJ tomorrow, and he has gotten undressed and back into bed, watching Shrek 2 on the DVD.