Alzheimer’s, A Process of Watching “Doerness” Dissolve
So what do I mean by this made up word “doerness”. I mean one who is a doer, one who gets things done on or before they need to be done. I have been the doer in the family, but my Alzheimer’s is slowly, but surely eroding my “doerness” ability. Examples are: my ability to arrive before its time has eroded because I’m not the driver and many times we arrive on time or a little late. That drives me crazy because I always arrived early.
I now see things that need to be done, but I find I can wait and do them later and then sometimes forget about them all together. Pill taking always happened first thing in the morning. I am now at a point where if I get morning pills taken before noon I feel I have accomplished something. A few weeks ago the physical therapist gave me a folder of physical exercises I am supposed to be doing, but didn’t start for almost two weeks.
So far the bills get paid on time or before, but that is because I am driven by fear I will forget and therefore do them prior to the due date with wife helping.
The transition from a doer to a nondoer is very hard and very frustrating because it has a down side. That is if another person-wife, paid professional, etc. begins to take over doer responsibilities, it becomes critical to get the timing right. If the new doer does it too early in the process the Alzheimer’s person will feel that the power to run their own life is going away and that is not good for them or for the folk around them. They will become resentful, irritated and then the caregiver may back off all together. If the caregiver starts replacing the Alzheimer’s doer too late it also may create problems. Examples: are the bills paid on time –“no I forgot”, is the grill turned off “no I forgot”. The “no I forgot” could refer to a 100 different things. Therefore timing for the replacement “doer” is critical.
Another complicating issue is that things do not erode equally. Here, is a few examples and their ranking of erosion on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being totally eroded and 9 still pretty good .
1 or 2- Depending on the moment, remembering names of new people or folks you haven’t seen in a while. I’m just awful.
3 or 4 Spelling, for me it’s just south of terrible- without my friend Seri I’m dead in the water.
5 or 6 Balancing the Checkbook and bill paying, wife now does it with me.
8 Cooking, I think I have lost just a bit of my skill set, but not much.
- Running a planning session or meeting. Was always good and still pretty good, except for the name issue.
- Writing, it’s still good except for spelling, which again, is awful.
Other concerning issues: Remembering turning on the house alarms. Not turning off my coffee warmer in my home office-wife now checks it. Leaving the gas grill on after I’m done-occasionally, not often.
What is interesting is this disease is not linear in its progression; some days are much better then others. There is just no way to tell much in advance.
The key to pushing off disease advancement is pretty simple: exercise, especially cardio, work your mind through reading, writing, word games etc. eat a Mediterranean diet and stay up on the research for a cure. So to the over 64,000 folks in Iowa with the disease and the over 135,000 caregivers, keep at it, a cure may be just around the corner.