Boxes, boxes everywhere

I’m preparing to put the house where J and I spent 16 years together on the market. This has necessitated cleaning out mountains of stuff.  It was bad enough to finally have to deal with the boxes from my parents’ house.   Figuring out what to do with the many boxes from J’s parents’ house also presented a challenge. 

I put aside a box of J’s photos and memorabilia for our 20-somethings. I asked J’s brother, W, if he wanted the rest. He lives a couple of hours away and visits J every month or so. We decided I would put the boxes in J’s closet in the room in the continuing care retirement community where she lives and he would pick them up on his next visit. 

There was only one problem. J, who has Alzheimer’s disease, had other ideas. She already had started moving her clothes out of her dresser and into a box in her closet. Now she had six more boxes to work with. The next time I visited, her belongings were interspersed among the photos of her extended family.  She also had moved one of the boxes to the nurses’ station. 

So the kids and I moved the memorabilia boxes to an office in the CCRC. That only helped to a point. The next time I visited, J had put many of her things in another box she took to the nurses’ station, and had jumbled a mass of stuff in another box in her closet. She also had filled her laundry basket with trash and her cell phone had gone missing, never to be found again. 

The message was clear: J needs more help. I emailed and spoke to the head of her facility, and she is now getting assistance to dress and manage her laundry. I haven’t been over yet this weekend, but I am hoping her clothes are in her dresser and closet, as they should be. 

It can be hard to draw anything positive from adjusting to J’s decline. Our friends, B and T were visiting a couple of weeks ago when our kids also were there. J was working on moving her clothes to the boxes. B and T signaled to the kids to just go with it. Learning when not to resist and to go with what’s happening in J’s Alzheimer’s world is a powerful lesson, as is discerning when to bring in staff to address the problem. 

As the Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said recently, there is no point in giving yourself a heart attack. “I’m not having a heart attack. I don’t have to like being patient, but I am anyway.”  Me, too. 

4 thoughts on “Boxes, boxes everywhere”

  1. Alaska? Was it an Olivia cruise? My wife (diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a year ago this May) and I got back July 2 from an Alaskan cruise. Probably no more cruises….I feel your pain….

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      1. WOW, small world!!! If you heard anything about the 2 crazy women from Tennessee who DROVE ALL THE WAY from Tennessee to Seattle, doing carpool karaoke, that was US!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was a big ship. I do this anonymously, but I invited you to Facebook message in case I can be helpful. I’m in year 7 of this journey.

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