Blog written by a wife married to the love of her life (32 years). She works Full Time as an Executive Director of a University and he is in the final stages of FrontoTemporal Dementia and living in Memory Care. Written to assist others through experiences, humor and well, GOD knows what else....
Friday, July 8, 2016
Holding hands with Gary.
Today while I was at work, I received an email from the coordinator at Gary's new home. It read:
Just wanted to let you know about a couple great moments we had with Gary today.
Earlier today he was able to join in on a balance and strength building exercise class we held here at the community. This instructor is also our Zumba instructor and she loves to incorporate up beat fun music during her classes. Gary really seemed to enjoy himself and sang along to many of the songs she was playing during the class. At times he needed a little assistance with following the different exercise moves she was prompting the class to do but a care manager sat with him and at times would help him lift his arms up and guide the movements to follow the instructors example. For the most part he was able to follow along himself for a good chunk of the class and really seemed to enjoy the overall experience.
Also, this afternoon the residents were participating in a spelling bee activity. At first it seemed he many have some trouble participating in this so he sat listening and watching the other residents spell when prompted. Then we noticed after he would hear a word be given to a resident to spell, he would begin to quietly spell it to himself under his breath- he spelled the words quite quickly and was correct each time. We then encouraged him to participate in the spelling bee and he spelled each word he was given correctly.
Our staff is getting to know him better and better each day, and when small moments like this happen it really affirms why we all love what we do.
Just wanted to share these moments with you! Take care and have a great day/weekend J."
She did not have to send me this, but she did. I am so glad they are including me and thinking of me while he is getting excellent care.
This evening, after work, I stopped by to visit during dinner. He as sitting at a table waiting on his dinner of waffles, fruit and sausage. I sat and watched from afar. The aide put his food down (she did not know I was there) and said, "Here is your waffle and sausage Gary. I cut them in strips so you can pick them up in your fingers." He did not seem to understand at first, but picked up his sausage and took a bite. He picked up his fork and tried to cut the waffle and got frustrated and like the last few months, he banged his fork against the bowl while trying to cut it. I could not take it and decided to help him. I stood beside him and cut his food into smaller bites and assisted him in eating the rest of his dinner. I knew he was appreciative.
I talked to him and tried to engage him in conversation. I asked him if his teeth felt better since he went to the dentist and got a cleaning yesterday. He said yes and smiled so I could see his grin.
I looked at his face when he smiled. It was different smile. It was what I call a "courtesy smile" and he knew what he was doing. So, I chose to sit and hold his hand.
The entire time I was there, his legs were shaking as if tapping his foot to a song in 3/4 time. Non-stop. For two hours. It is worse than it was before so I took the opportunity to try to communicate with the Nurse and/or the doctor. The nurse introduced herself and immediately told me how much she and the staff love Gary. We discussed his medication and his new schedule. I indicated that his FTD has caused him to shake in the past few months but that his shaking is significantly worse.
I was surprised that she knew enough of him that she said he shakes less when he has something to do with his hands. She knew this and said she would share it with all the others. I was concerned that his body will wear out faster if he continues at this pace. All the staff responds with genuine concern. I really don't think I could have chosen a better place for him.
Tomorrow, I will visit him again. I love him so much and miss him so desperately. I not only miss the man with Dementia at home but I miss the man I married and lived with for 30 years. That man is still in his brain and his soul but I am fearful that the personality I truly loved will never be accessed again. It is in safe keeping until he gets to heaven.