Recap of Snowbird January dinner when Evidence of Alzheimers Strikes Pawpaw and He asked me about my oldest son.

On a January evening while I was with Mom and Pawpaw, the almost daily stark evidence of Alzheimers near sundown struck Pawpaw during our evening meal. Pawpaw asked me about my oldest son. Since I have only one birth child, I asked, “Do you mean my son Seth?”

Pawpaw replied, “No”.

“Do you mean my stepson Matthew?”

Pawpaw replied, “No”.

“Do you mean my stepson Nathan?”

Pawpaw replied, “No”.

Since, with that list, I had run out of sons, I decided to ask, “Do you mean Lynn?”

Pawpaw excitedly replied, “Yes!”

Mom and I looked at each other and without saying a word, had a silent eye-to-eye conversation that acknowledged Pawpaw’s Alzheimer’s Sun Downers Syndrome was overly active tonight.

Then I said, “Well, Pawpaw, Lynn is my brother, not my son.”

His response was, “You’re pulling my leg!”

Mom piped in and said, “Yes, Lynn is MY son!l”

Pawpaw’s immediate and fast comeback to that was, “In your dreams!”

Mom and I both rolled our eyes at each other, silently acknowledging that Pawpaw was DEEP within the Sundowners Syndrome tonight and deeply confused about who we were.

Mom asked him, “who am I?”

“You’re my mother-in-law.”

“No I am not you’re mother-in-law.”

“Okay, so you’re my sister.”

“No dear. I am your wife!”

Pawpaw, not believing a word mom said, replies, ” now you are pulling my leg.”

Speaking to each other silently, in eye language again, we acknowledge we must redirect Pawpaw into another line of conversation and activity. I then direct our attention to the TV and what we can find to watch.

This night, one of Pawpaw’s most confused, lead me and mom to discuss a guess I had about the root cause of his confusion. Mom who had always kept her hair colored auburn brown, decided, just three months ago, to let her hair go gray. Pawpaw’s sister and former mother-in-law where the only two women he was close to with gray hair. I guessed the gray hair color was confusing him.

To test that guess, mom found a picture, Pawpaw’s favorite of her from 29 years ago, and showed him. His response, “Yes, that’s Wilma! that is my wife! Where is she?”

Mom decided then and there that she indeed needed to go back to her auburn brown hair coloring routine in hopes that it would decrease Pawpaw’s confusion!!

Now, looking back on these past two months, the brown hair coloring did indeed lessen his confusion. In fact, I don’t think he has mistaken her for his MIL or sister more than once or twice in the past month. For mom that has been a welcome change!

It is hard on her when he does not know she is his wife. Let’s hope he continues to know her for some time to come. Both their lives will be easier as long as he knows who his primary caregiver really is to him in his life.

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