My house or our house?
By Samra Jones Bufkins
I’m not completely sure if he knows who I am, and that fluctuates from day to day. More than once he’s referred to me as “the woman who lives here.” Friends always make a point of saying “your wife, Samra…” whenever possible.
At the suggestion of a friend, I’ve posted a few reminders around the house. Most of the time, though, I’m pretty sure, to him at least, we’re just roommates. Sometimes I’m that witch who makes him eat, shower, change clothes, and do other stuff he doesn’t want to do. He usually knows my name, although he never calls me by name–he’ll say my name if asked who I am.
Early this morning, while I was listening to the news and reading, Bill got up, came to my side of the bed, and stood, hands on hips, with a strange look on his face. I asked “what’s up?” He said “Aren’t you going to show me the rest of your house?”
For some reason, I didn’t freak out, cry or say anything about this latest memory loss. Even a few months ago my natural inclination would be to say “Are you kidding? We’ve lived here ten years. Your parents lived here for 30 years before that.” For once I didn’t do that. Miraculously, I responded largely the way the Alzheimer’s Association recommends:
- Stay calm
- Respond with a brief explanation
- Show reminders
- Time travel to where they are
- Suggest rather than correct
- Don’t take it personally
- Share the experience with others.
I said “Okay, let me get my shoes on.” I gave him a tour. Showed him each room, closets, light switches and key features of the house and backyard.
He was impressed. He thought it was cool that we have 3 bathrooms and a pool. The big sunroom overlooking the pool was “beautiful” (actually, it’s a mess). He loved the kitchen. The French Door refrigerator fascinated him. He thought the ceiling fans were neat and the sofas comfortable.
When I was done he said “Thank you” and we went on with our morning as if nothing unusual had happened.
Just another day in Alzheimer’s World.
His parents bought this house in 1979. We have lived here since July 2007.