The next few paragraphs are by Sharron’s husband, Tom. This is my observations on the changes.
Very often when Sharron tells someone of her problem they minimize it, saying things like, “I forget things all the time”. “Just the other day it took me 5 minutes to find my keys.” “You seem so normal.”
Cognitive impairment is not like that. My perception is there are basic mental processing issues. Not affected are things like motor skills; the ability to see and react; and the ability to talk. Thinking processes are affected. Things like logical problem solving, and dealing with the unexpected.
When you lose something, your keys, you think back such as what I was doing when I got out of the car, trace back your steps and find those keys. Now if you have no idea what you did over the past 5 minutes, where would you look?
On the subject of communication, I remember one day in 2011 when I told Sharron she is using too many pronouns. If you cannot think of someone’s name, you can just say “she”. If you cannot think of an item, you say “pass that to me”. In 2014 I heard “pass me the flipper over thingy” and “That temperature measuring device.” Now in 2015 the word challenge is progressing to sentences. Imaging getting half way through a sentence and forgetting how to end it. The loss of words is frustrating for both of us.
We need to separate conversation into 2 different types. There is what I call ‘shooting the breeze’ like friends just sitting around chatting; then there is ‘direct’ communication, where information is conveyed to someone. When Sharron is shooting the breeze everything seems normal. Words flow; there is a normal two way interaction. Sharron can be telling a wonderful story of our last trip, but her color commentary will have fractured some facts. I like to say she can be talking about or trip to Florida when we actually went to Georgia.
Direct communication is much more challenging. Because recall of recent events has been confounded, passing information that you have had that pain for one week becomes twisted to something like ‘a couple of months’. To address this Sharron is writing many events in her journal or day planner.
Even with the challenges we still live our lives. We have overcome a serious leg fracture, and are back to living. Last week was at the beach. We have plans for more travel in place. We are not letting Alzheimer’s control our lives.