What Is She Thinking?

As J loses her verbal abilities, I find it difficult to understand what she is trying to communicate or to apprehend what she understands and what she misses. Often now, when I ask her a direct question, I get no response. If I am less than patient, I will say, “J, I just asked you a direct question. Do you have an answer?”  More often than not, I get a blank stare.  Or she will seem to concentrate very hard as I repeat the question, and I may get a short answer.

I have accepted that six years into an Azheimer’s disease diagnosis, J and I are not going to chat about the latest presidential debate, or World Series strategy. I know to limit her choices when ordering in a restaurant. “Do you want a burger or a club sandwich?” works a lot better than handing over a multipage menu.

Yet she still has some fairly sophisticated thoughts. She came to my side of the bed on Saturday night with her watch in her hands and held it out to me, saying nothing.  I asked what she needed. “Do you need a new battery.  “No.”  “Do you need a new strap?”  “No.”  “I’m sorry.  I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.”

Then it hit me the next day.  Daylight savings time had ended and J wanted me to set her watch back.

I do find myself wishing I had more insight into what is going on in her head.  Does she understand more than she can communicate?  Who knows?

Fortunately, J still remains happy almost all the time, which is a great blessing.  Perhaps I have to accept that just as J can’t always communicate with me, I can no longer always interpret what she’s trying to communicate, and I certainly can’t read her mind.



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