Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Who Takes the Blame

When we were kids, Mom used to ask if there were a couple of additional children living in our house named "I don't know" and "It wasn't me!"  These were the most common answers we gave when she asked who was responsible for whatever misdeed was being investigated.  We, being normal kids, actively looked for ways to get out of trouble.

These days, "I don't know" has been replaced by "I don't remember" and "It wasn't me" has been replaced by Nikka.

Alzheimer's is an interesting disease.  Lyn knows that her brain isn't working right.  She's described it as "jumping all over the place" or "flipping inside out."  She seems to recognize that her anxiety and shadowing of Mom is abnormal.  She's shadowed before but it has become nearly constant ever since the incident just after Christmas.  She is intent on keeping Mom or her community access provider in sight at all times.  With Mom, this now means that Lyn actively interjects herself into the act of going to the restroom.

If you ask Lyn what she needs, "I don't remember" is now her most common response.  Lyn no longer remembers details about anything.  She does remember feelings, particularly strong ones.  Unfortunately, her strongest emotions at this point are in the fear and anxiety category which cycles into her desire to shadow.  She's looking for assurance that everything's OK.  She knows enough that she doesn't trust her own assessments and is looking to others for added assurance.

If she proactively offers a reason for her shadowing, the chances are very high that she'll blame Nikka.  Nikka wonders where Mom is and when she'll be done in the restroom.  Nikka wonders what Mom is doing in the kitchen or who is on the phone or who wrote what in an email.  Lyn offers Nikka up as a potentially believable excuse.

Fortunately, Nikka is one of the most patient beings I have met.  She stands there and wags her tail as if every word Lyn says is 100% true.  Nikka's not one to correct Lyn.  Both Nikka and Mom know the truth and that correcting Lyn will just hurt Lyn's feelings.  So, with a pat on the head, Mom lets Nikka know that she's in on their complicity in helping Lyn manage her daily anxiety.

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