Each summer visit with my sister now includes a question that Mom and I discuss. Sometimes my husband provides feedback as well. The question is "What are the changes you notice from last year's visit?" This question is actually hard to answer for me and Mom because we're keeping watch of the changes happening with Lyn. My husband is a bit more removed from Lyn's care which allows him to notice things that we tend to forget to call out since we've been noting them all along.
This year has brought to our attention that Lyn's behavior and her responses are more juvenile. For example, she frequently seeks affirmation or praise for an action which should not require it. When she gets a high score on her electronic bowling game, she would ask us to guess her score and then brag about it. When we went bowling at the alley, she continued talking about how she was going to beat me while expecting me to cheer each of her efforts. I know she's competitive and a bit spoiled, but she was hateful towards me in the alley and I received numerous sidelong glares. She would call out to me as I would approach the lane with my ball but get ugly if I said anything to her or if I tried to take a picture. She pushed it enough that I turned to her at one point and quietly said "Enough" over the ball in my hands.
Jealousy and paranoia are a daily occurrence even when the day is focused around her. At one point on Thursday, she demanded that Mom tell her what Mom and I had been speaking of so that Lyn could make sure it was acceptable to her. Lyn had been putting on a bit of a show at the zoo of how difficult it was to walk and how much she needed to sit on each available bench that I had expressed concern for her ability to bowl. When Lyn heard this, she got angry at me for doubting her.
Lyn is isolating herself more. Each day, she would spend and hour or more in her bedroom by herself. It was deliberate and, I think, her way of not getting over stimulated or jealous of my kids. She got mad if one of them came to her room to check on her and went so far as to close her door "to keep them out." The keeping them out was a sign of her paranoia. My kids are old enough to understand when someone wants to be alone and to follow directions to stay out of Aunt Lyn's room. So, they weren't offended. They know what is happening to her and are very good about not taking her actions personally.
Last week, I wondered if Lyn would remember my little one's name while we were here under the same roof. She does not. She has not stated my child's name once to the recollection of Mom, my husband or me. She would call the child "Goofy" or "Snicklefritz" instead. Fortunately, my child never corrected her or made her feel bad about this. The reality is, however, that the name is gone from her.
Lyn's hoarding money. It is all small denominations but that's really all she has available to her. Every coin is saved. When she has dollars in her purse, she says she wants to spend them, but then only wants to spend one or two. When we went to the zoo, Mom had Lyn pay her own entrance fee. It was $9 and Lyn pulled a stack of ones from her purse. She peeled off $2 and handed it to Mom. Mom prompted her for more 4 more times and Lyn got madder with each request. "I don't want to spend this much! I want to save it!" Mom had to remind her that the zoo costs that much and it was Lyn's responsibility to pay her own fee.
The week with Lyn has given us an opportunity to see and experience some of the challenges surrounding her care. It has allowed us to see her changes and the stresses on Mom. Our yearly, informal assessment indicates that Lyn's dementia is progressing which is no surprise to us, really. Unfortunately, it is hard to anticipate where she will be in a year.