After meeting with the lawyer on Friday, we met with our financial adviser on Saturday to talk about the issues arising from the Alzheimer’s. The details probably aren’t relevant here, but I was impressed by two things. The first was our process. I’d told him previously about my Alzheimer’s; Saturday we acknowledged it again at the beginning of our meeting and he expressed his sympathy appropriately. But after that, we moved directly into the meeting and were able to talk easily about the nursing home I’ll probably need, my death, and Marja’s needs during and after my illness. It was a straightforward discussion, and I was grateful.
The second thing was that he mentioned was that his mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s and she’s currently at the stage where she is quite confused about many things (for instance, they can’t leave her at home alone) but when she is in conversation with them, she is still present. While I’m sure there are limitations to what she can understand, nevertheless, they are still in what feels like full relationship with her.
Somehow I’d forgotten this stage and that I unconsciously saw myself as going directly from a somewhat confused and ambulatory old man to a bed-ridden vegetable in the nursing home. If I’d thought about it consciously, of course, it would have been obvious that there are several long stages in between. One the one hand, his mother's story is hopeful: Even well into the disease, it's possible to still be in relationship with people close to me. On the other hand, it’s likely that the point will come that my family won’t be able to meet my needs even though I’m still ambulatory and “present” to myself and to others; this could happen, for instance, if I wandered uncontrollably. Perhaps I will need to be in a nursing home well before I lose consciousness of myself and those who love me. That thought is scary.