My plan, as the wife of a spouse with Alzheimer's, was to use the summer months to develop a new routine for both of us. I give a lot of credit to my husband for quitting smoking cold turkey, which allowed him to start attending the Adult Day Care Center two minutes from our home. I had been attending Caregiver Support Groups and knew this had to be the next step, which turned out to be easier thought of than accomplished. On my part, mostly emotional, similar to separation anxiety mixed with guilt; for him, it was like a whole new world opened up and he liked it so much, I had to develop a system of simple notes for days he went and days he didn't. That worked for only a brief time, then he was waking up in the middle of the night, getting dressed, feeding the cats, heating up his breakfast, annoyed that I wasn't taking him to "his new job" at 4 or 5am. (The cats didn't mind and got fatter.)


At some point I had realized he no longer was capable of making his own breakfast and that even using the microwave and toaster was problematic. At first, I purchased Breakfast Hot Pockets, at the ridiculous price of 4 for $5.00, with directions he found difficult to decipher. Then I started making the equivilent of a killer quiche every Saturday night, that he could reheat for 1 minute every day, along with 2 strips of turkey bacon and a wholegrain English muffin with butter. The recipe varies, depending on what I've got leftover, but here's the basic method:


BREAKFAST BREAKFAST

Generously grease a 9X13 inch pan with olive oil. Mix in a large bowl: 12 large eggs, 1 cup heavy cream, 2 bottles or cans of chocolate or vanilla Ensure, a scoop of whey powder, chopped onion, garlic, wholegrain bread ends, broken, 2-3 small potatoes, and whatever leftover sausage, chicken livers, ham, or meat of some kind, also leftover vegetables, 1-2 overly ripe bananas, American and/or Swiss cheese. Salt and pepper. Pour all of this into the pan and bake approximately 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. Let cool, then cut into 8-10 rectangles. My husband chose the name for this and every week tells me it's better than the last week. (Which, since his taste buds are basically shot from 60 years of smoking, is highly rewarding plus makes the start of our day MUCH easier.) If I added up the calories, protein, fat, carbs, etc., my guess is he's starting the day with at least half of the RDI for his dietary needs. Add his cherry Pepsi and one-a-day vitamins, and it's no wonder he went from clinically malnourished, weighing 138 at 6 ft. 3in. to a healthier 170 lbs!


I must also give credit to the Adult Day Care Center, where he gets a morning snack, a mid-day catered full meal (he always claims it's thin sliced pork), and then an afternoon snack at 2:30pm. I pick him up between 3-3:30 but before he's home, I have turned on lights and nightlights in strategic locations. As winter approaches, he definitely is more sensitive to sundowning, so I make sure there are more lights turned on than I'm comfortable with, but which help him stay oriented, to some degree. Five years ago, all of this would have infuriated me, but now I see how much effort he's putting into EVERYTHING and I ache that he is still somewhat aware that his behaviors are both a surrender and an attempt to make sense of his world, in a brain that is changing far too rapidly.


Despite a few setbacks and lack of support from his side of the family, to put it politely; he now attends five days a week and has cultivated quite a following of new friends, among both other "club members" as well as staff. He comes home tired and happy, full of funny anecdotes, much like a young child after preschool or kindergarten. We've had some issues since my mother had the heart attack with him worrying about having enough socks or thinking he won't get to "work" on time, so there's been some night time wandering in the house. I brought him twice to visit her in the sub acute rehab facility, and he was happy to see she was okay, but he was very disturbed by the Halloween decorations.


That's been another large change, his taste in TV, tolerance for visual violence, as well as his lack of interest in anything with a plot lasting longer than 30 minutes. So, among the 700 or so channels we get, we watch Steve Harvey on Family Feud, Animal Planet's Too Cute Puppies, Too Cute Kittens, and PitBulls and Parolees. Happy endings very important. So, is this the proper care and feeding of a husband? I don't know. Sometimes my ideas work or help, sometimes they don't. I tell people who ask or criticize, I'm doing the best I can. I've learned so much, mostly to be grateful, to be in the moment and to be kinder because you never know what others are dealing with in their lives.

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