Yesterday was one of those days, the really difficult kind that you can’t explain. Bo had been having a slump for 3 or 4 days — confused, not as strong, needed to be fed to keep the meal going. Then came yesterday.
Early last evening Jon and family left for 9 days and I was alone with Bo. He was on the living room sofa sleeping, as usual. I prepared his dinner, then went into the room to get him up to come to the kitchen. (Jon was now gone perhaps 45 minutes. ) Bo got up with much effort on my part, and then I realized he needed very badly to stop on the way. The bathroom is in the other direction, so I got him headed that way, holding both of his hands and walking backward to sort of pull him along. But he wasn’t strong enough, nearly fainted, and we stopped at the base of the stairs, which we had to pass, where he could hang on to the banister while I figured out what to do. His knees were buckling.
I ran outside and got a metal lawn chair, grabbed a waterproof bed pad on the way, a rubber backed rug from the bathroom and got him seated. As I kept saying, “I’ll be with you in a moment, don’t move!” I got a basin of water and supplies to correct the situation right there in the front hall.
When I was finished re-dressing him, I tried to get him into the kitchen. He took 4 or 5 steps and hung precariously from the railing, so I got the chair behind him and he sat down. Then I just put a TV tray in front of him, got myself a chair and his dinner, and fed him there in the hall.
Friends were coming in about an hour to watch a movie, so I propped Bo’s head on a pile of pillows on the TV tray, soothing him and rubbing his back until they arrived. Then Rodney and I started the job of getting Bo upstairs to bed. It was such a difficult job. Jon knows how to handle handicapped persons so when this has happened in the past, he almost carried Bo to bed. (One time he actually picked him up in his arms like a baby and carried him to the car.)
When we got Bo standing, our arms around him, he couldn’t move because he didn’t know how to move his legs. So I got in front of him and backed up the stairs, pulling him and encouraging him with, “You can do this. You can. Lift your leg,” as Rodney actually moved his legs forward until he completed each separate movement. My pulling him up helped. Finally we got to the top where he fell to his knees and climbed the final three steps and into the bedroom where we were able to get him onto the bed. Not an easy feat.
I tucked him in, turned out the lights and watched him on the baby monitor downstairs. He didn’t move. I think this may just be part of the ups and downs of Alzheimer’s, but the timing was unbelievable.
It’s hard to know what to expect today. Will he be equally as weak? or not? I plan to leave him in the bedroom and go there with him rather than risk the stairs.
Friends will be here this evening if I need help. His other caregiver will be here afternoons and evenings all week, but I’ll probably be alone with him again next weekend until Jon returns, either Sunday or Monday.
On bad days like this, I joke with friends, “This wasn’t part of the bargain.” But it was.
(I am posting this story with its details because people ask me what advanced stage Alzheimer’s is like. This decline combined with his inability to finish sentences makes Bo so sad and, surely, he must be terribly frustrated. I know that I am.)