The Bear in the Basement

Living with Bo is like having a three-year-old in our house.

He constantly gets into things — the refrigerator, the cookie jar, the mail, the freezer, bureau drawers.  Whatever he can find. He sorts things, moves them,  puts them into his pocket.   Jon said tonight that “he gets into something every two minutes, circling back again and again.” It’s boredom and restlessness and confusion.

Last week he told me there’s a bear in the basement.  “A bear?” I asked as I looked down the steps.  “Yeah,” he said,  “there’s a bear down there.” He meant that the light was on.

Yesterday he didn’t recognize ice; today he didn’t know what water is. Words, concepts, so much loss.  At dinner he pointed to his water glass and asked for sheets (ice cubes). When he comes into the house, he often asks for a drink by signaling (pointing to his mouth.)  Last night he said he wanted “puffy foat.”  What do you want? I asked.  “Puffy foat,” he said emphatically as if everyone knows what it is.  I think he meant ice cream. Then he said he was “buzzled” (tired).

He forgets about shaving, just rubs his face and asks what to do.  Until recently, I could tell him to go back upstairs and shave, but now he doesn’t recognize the electric razor until it’s in his hand. When he’s tired, things are even harder.  I put the toothpaste on his brush at night, help him out of his clothes (explaining what to do) and tuck him in.

I have to plan dinner, ready to serve quickly if he becomes too obsessed with eating, often as early at 4:30 now.   It’s not as if he’s hungry.  He may have eaten a substantial snack a half hour, even fifteen minutes ago, but he just can’t let the idea go once he has it.  Then when I’m cooking, he’s paces around in the kitchen, asking, “Are we going to eat sometime?” He leans over my shoulder, “What are you doing?”  “What’s that?” I try to count to twenty.

I know that I need to hold off eating as long as possible because the earlier he has dinner, the earlier he will go to bed, and this will contribute to the day/night confusion that Alzheimer’s patients experience.

He no longer gets ice cream out of the refrigerator and scoops it into a bowl. We do it for him, and as soon as he finishes a bowl, he asks for more because he doesn’t remember eating ice cream  “for a very long time.”

Mostly, he asks questions now because he doesn’t understand what others are saying or what he sees.  So much of it has no logic. I see a decline in his ability to play Rummicube, our traditional game, and I keep altering the rules to make it easier.

And always, if I’m sitting down, I listen to hear what’s going on out of my line of sight, trying to resist getting up yet again to check on what he’s doing.

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One Response to The Bear in the Basement

  1. Kathe Shakespeare says:

    Nancy, I am speechless but I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers everyday!
    With fondest feelings,
    Kathe S.

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