First, I should say I didn't see this coming, as I was spending a fair amount of time trying to help my mother with her health issues, mostly cardiac. Second, I have no formal background in anything remotely scientific or medical, unless you count dating a pharmacist in the late 1970's. Third, what I write is from the perspective of a spouse (it apparently makes a significant difference), as opposed to an adult child. Fourth, as with any disease, how it manifests in each person varies.
Several books and helpful pamphlets emphasize the importance of not making drastic changes, in the home or in social activities. I am addressing this topic, as it is currently the most surprising shift in my husband's behavior:
A life-long Democrat, he suddenly votes Republican, was tearfully happy yesterday that Chris Christie called our house, wants him to be the next President. That made his morning. He wasn't sure if it had been real or a recording, and he didn't care.
An atheist before I met him, as well as 27 years of our marriage, he announced at the latest dinner at my mother's (not including the impromptu, in costume, Halloween potluck, at his suggestion), much to the shock of my niece, my sons and myself that he wasn't sure if he was Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, or Methodist. No one said anything at first, then I responded, "I'm pretty sure you're still an atheist..." He shot me a look, then said, "I don't know why you keep telling people that." Angry. I recovered pretty quickly and reassured him he could be any of those religions, if he wanted. I guess those were the magic words, as he grinned and went outside for a smoke.
There have always been at least two large fish tanks in our parlour, in varying states of care. Several weeks ago, he emptied and cleaned out both of them, declared he no longer wanted to spend time on fish tank upkeep. I was secretly happy, as they leak, are loud, and there was only one small catfish left. Then he refilled them at least once. He kept talking about how he had to age the water, how the temperature had to be just right. Even before he had Alzheimer's, he was obsessive about this, so I know the speech by heart. Finally, I asked him why he was setting them up again and he said he didn't know. I got my sons to help him siphon the water out, then take the tanks outside. Our cats found the entire event fascinating. Now, it is an empty space, with aquarium tubing and rotting wood.
For the past 27 years, he rarely attended any event pertaining to honoring the military. I think he had a grudge against the Air Force, because they rejected him unless he could correct his height, seated, by two inches. He still has the letter. As far as my daughter's husband and his brother being in the military, he is proud of them. In our community last Sunday, VFW Post 7858, the Township Beautification Task Force, local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts hosted an event honoring veterans, as well as those currently serving. I wrote it on the calendar and circled the article in the newspaper, expecting to go alone.
I slept late, waking at 11:30am, couldn't find my husband anywhere. Our bed was made, in this new style where he throws all of my pillows onto the floor and drapes two red, white, and blue starred placemats over backrest cushions. Finally found him outside just looking at the sky and smoking, fully dressed, coat and hat since it was barely 40 degrees F. "Hey", I said, "what are you doing?" He answered, "I'm ready to go to that flag thing with you." I said, "I'd better get out of my pajamas then." He looked at me and said, "You're a strange woman, but I think I like that." Suddenly worried, I asked him, "Do you mean strange, as in you don't know who I am?" He laughed, and said, "You're my wife. You just like to do strange things." I was silently relieved, not ready for the day when he doesn't remember who I am.