Mom was more tense when we arrived than I've seen her in a long time. The stress of my sister's changes, particularly the emotional outbursts combined with frustrations trying to get work lined up in their home left her feeling discouraged and weary.
Lyn was happy to see us but is emotionally delicate. She cries each day now when she is tired or when something provokes a strong feeling in her other than pure joy. Joy leads to laughter which can hold off the tears for her. Any other emotion leads to tears. For example, at the wedding, she started to cry when the bride began her walk down the isle. She also burst into tears when I had blocked her from swatting something off my skirt. She told me there was something on my skirt and speculated it was a bee as she reached down for it. I quickly reached back and blocked her from touching whatever it was because I know she doesn't know how to handle bees and if one stung me, I'd end up in the hospital. I surprised her and her inability to regulate her emotions lead to tears and an angry huff off around a corner.
Over the two weeks preceding our visit to NM, additional changes have been noted in Lyn's behaviors. She's asleep before 6pm each night. (During our visit, she forced herself to stay up until at least 9pm.) She also sleeps until 8am unless Mom wakes her. (During our visit, she got up the moment she heard anyone stir in the house which was closer to 6am.) She needs daily help picking out her clothes now. She also has started finding social events increasingly difficult and has decided to reduce the amount of time she spends with a respite provider. As of now, she will continue with day hab because that happens during the best hours of the day for her, roughly 10am to 2pm. However, respite will only be used for bowling on Thursdays and 10-2 on Saturdays. Anything else is too difficult for Lyn.
All of this points to where Lyn is at in the progression of her disease. In the three stage model of Alzheimer's, Lyn is in Stage 2. In the seven stage model, she's in Stage 5. What this means is that she has Moderate Alzheimer's. This is a difficult stage because of the emotional outbursts and the increasing need for daily interventions. This is the stage where hallucinations can occur as well as aggressive behaviors. Lyn has a visit with her physician in two weeks or so and all of this will be discussed. We may be rapidly reaching the time when Lyn needs daily medical intervention to keep her emotions on a more stable level. During this week, Lyn stated "I want to be happy but my brain won't let me." This is a very telling statement because it again highlights her awareness of her own disease and her desire to not be upset all the time.
So, where does this leave me on how our visit went? Actually, I think it went well despite the challenges noted above.
We got to see each other and that is value enough right there. Mom got time with the grandchildren who demonstrated that they really can be great little people. My little one's emphatic hands delighted and entertained each day. My sister got to play with my children and upheld her self-declared title of the Best Bowler in the World by beating us all at 2 games.
Mom did win the first game though Lyn is firmly ignoring that result.
For the first time in my life, I experienced shoe envy over the pair Lyn was wearing. She has a nice pair of white and black sneaker style bowling shoes. The pair I bowled in were not that.
We had family portraits done. It was a great success because the photographer came to Mom's home and did the shoot in a setting where neither Lyn's dementia nor my little one's PTSD were triggered. That was a gift for which I cannot adequately convey how much it means to Mom and me.
We helped celebrate my other sister's wedding to a great guy.
We shared good food. We shared way too much good food. We ate chile each day, including the morning we flew back to NM. I love being asked "Red or Green?" even though I'm going to always say "green." I like just having that choice.
We oohed and awed over the playful snow leopard cubs at the zoo as they pounced on empty cardboard boxes, their mother and each other.
Not to be overlooked, I showed Lyn that my camera could take our picture while we watched. This is probably the only selfie you'll ever see with me. She was curious and it entertained her so it was worth it.
It got her to smile. So, yes. It was a good visit.