When I first began this journey with Mom, I found the full moon to have a radical effect on her. How to accomplish any normal day to day activity – dressing, eating, using the bathroom, etc. – could be completely forgotten. The loss of the ability to do these things frequently brought on tantrums. Then a day later or sometimes even an hour later, she would go about her day as if nothing had happened. I was not surprised that she would forget but I was surprised that the abilities would come and go so quickly.
Long ago Mom told us stories about this type of thing when caring for Daddy. Although we watched Daddy take his journey through Alzheimer’s, for the most part we watched from afar. Mom lived it every day and for awhile, my brother Ronnie lived with them and received firsthand experience. Ronnie was there when Daddy, in a matter of seconds, went from knowing him as his son to running across fields and jumping three fences to get away from a stranger.
So, while we had experienced the disease, I found I had much to learn. The most helpful tool initially was a book called The 36 Hour Day by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins. It was so helpful that I read much of it aloud to my husband during a trip we took last summer. I learned about why Mom would throw tantrums and how I could work to avoid them. I also learned about dealing with hygiene and safety issues and many other useful topics. Reading the book by no means made me an expert! It definitely helped but I continue to learn.
The things I have learned help me with times like these. Today is a full moon and Mom seems to be feeling the effects. The good thing is the full moon isn’t so disruptive these days because we have become accustomed to the behaviors and learned to work around or with them for the most part.
Yesterday, Mom spent much of the day going from window to window checking the “cleaning” of the snow outside. She thinks that people come at night to clean it because other people aren’t happy about it being cleaned. A few minutes before 8:00 tonight, she came to us and said, “Why can’t I see outside? All I can see is lights.” We had to explain that it was dark outside and that she could only look outside if the lights in the room were off. It seems like a common sense type of thing but Alzheimer’s has no common sense.
Today will be the same. Mom’s first words to me were, “Did you look outside?” In the last two hours I have lost count of the number of times she has asked.
Good news? Steve installed the gate at the end of the hall and we no longer have to worry at night. Funny thing was Mom watched him install it and thanked him when he was done!