One fun adventure in Alzheimer is accusing people of stealing. The books warn of it, the doctors too, and it’s so very true. Those closest to the loved one (LO) with Alzheimer will be accused of stealing things.
Every day, my mom thinks someone (usually me) stole something or other. Her underwear, a favorite pen or mirror, a single shoe, the milk from the fridge (that’s behind the juice), her remote control (wedged in the chair), the phone (in the fridge), her purse, the mail from the mailbox that’s in her hand, and the list goes on.
For us, unfortunately, she thinks a family member stole her tractor. Not only did that person not steal the tractor, it’s actually more heartbreaking: she doesn’t recognize it. The tractor is just fine, in the barn, being well cared for and still used to farm. She never learned how to drive it, but dad had bought it in her honor, thinking she’d be willing to learn. No deal, but she remembers that he loved her. It’s better she remember that than the tractor.
I should have figured it out sooner, because a few months before she had said I stole her adding machine. Umm… no, I use Excel on the computer or a calculator on my phone. She had it on the dining room table, had been using it for days, and a couple of days later, she brings it into the office I work in at home (a bonus for me with COVID, because I love working at home), and screams at me asking why I stole her adding machine and gave her this crappy one that she can’t use. Well, just like the tractor, she didn’t recognize it as the one she’d been using in the dining room for two days … and has owned and used about two decades.
Unlike the tractor and the adding machine, which are fairly painful subjects around our house because she still believes they were stolen, even though the issue is that she no longer recognizes them, and becomes instantly angry, there is good in this that is fun for her. Not everything is extreme in the bad.
She finds new clothes in her closet (that she’s had for decades, but so what). She finds a new toothpaste in her bathroom (half used by her these last few weeks, but she’s happy, so that’s good). She sees an article in the Parade magazine that’s really interesting (she’s read parts of it to me about a dozen times over the last two weeks). The picture on the wall must be new, and she really likes it (which is great because she picked it out a few years ago). She finds a stash of chocolate by her favorite chair (put there by her a few hours ago).
Other good things are that she sometimes knows people she hasn’t seen in years. She remembers where this or that Christmas tree ornament came from and when. She doesn’t remember having a certain food, but finds now that she loves it (she’s always loved it, and I get it for her on purpose). She wants to be active, go places, and do things. There is still joy in her. We will go to see more Christmas lights, and if she wants to see the lights in Bronson Park again for the first time every night the week of Christmas, that is what we will do.
The goal is to see the humor or joy in everything, while trying to ignore the sad, bad, or upsetting, because that serves no one. I am no good at ignoring the sad, bad, or upsetting yet, but I will keep trying. Our family and friends give us both strength. Everyday is a new day to both of us to try and try and try again. It’s no easy path, and I do not wish this disease on anyone. No. One. Ever.