The physical therapist is in the living room with Bo, trying to keep him focused on some exercises to strengthen his legs, build stamina, and help his balance.
I hear Bo’s boisterous laugh as he jokes with her, “Am I going to have to do this all night? … What? Are you kidding?”
He gets up after about 10 minutes, goes into the kitchen and gets a can of cookies and takes them to Patty, encouraging her to take some even though she refuses at first.
Then he calls, “Nancy!”
“Get her a glass of water.” Patty has already refused a cup of tea but takes the water to please him.
This is Bo, the gracious, jovial host. He’s lost in his Alzheimer’s world — doesn’t understand the snow on the ground, the cold, the time of day, why Patty is here, how to brush his teeth — but his manners and kindness remain.
Finally, he settles down for a bit and I hear the two of them laughing as Patty takes him through his exercises. She tries to keep his attention and I wonder if I should go in and do the exercises too.
The therapist has been coming to the house for over a month now since an MRI found that Bo has a pinched nerve in his back – no doubt causing the weakness in his thigh that sent us to the doctor in the first place.
I can see how much he needs this interaction with other people, something different in his day. The severe winter weather has increased his boredom and ennui. He would sleep all day if we let him, and when he gets up he’s so tired that just brushing his teeth or pulling on his sox exhausts him. He manages to come down for breakfast and goes to lie on the sofa immediately after eating.
Most afternoons Jon takes him for a ride to run errands so that he has more stimulation (and I have more quiet at home.) When he’s home, if he’s not resting, he constantly walks around moving things, tasting things, calling for me to see where I am.
At night, sometimes Jon gets him to bed and he sleeps, but other nights he comes downstairs multiple times, … “just checking on things,” he’ll say. Often he eats something and then Jon or I get him back upstairs.
“Nancy!” The therapist is ready to leave and I go into the room to schedule another session and say goodbye.
I hear my name called so many times during the day. He seems to need to know where I am. Is it security? When I came home from teaching my classes Monday evening, I asked Jon if Bo was looking for me. “He asked where you were about 50 times,” Jon said wearily.