Years with William
Well the years certainly fly by, it does not seem like I have been taking care of William for almost eight years now. Four of them however have not been in the lock down unit. Before he came to the unit, we only kept a close eye on him, to watch the progression of his Alzheimer’s which at first started off slowly. It was only when he became a flight risk that we had to bring him into lock down. Before that there would be flare ups, and of course erratic behavior but he was not a danger to himself.
The first two years were difficult, since he would forget where was at, and would start hollering for his mother, who has of course been dead for many years now. He would often wait by the door, and would actually get out a few times. I remember one night I was called because he got out. After looking for him for about an hour, I found him near the highway, just getting ready to step onto it. The traffic was very heavy, so it could have been fatal to him, and also for whoever had the misfortune of hitting him.
He has been sent to a psyche hospital at least four times in the last few years, the last time was the worst. They could not find the medicines they wanted for him and they changed them so much that it almost killed him. So we have had our ups and downs with William, but he is worth it.
The last year he has deteriorated quite a bit, losing weight, unable to use his legs, having bouts of yelling and violence, sometimes being very extreme, hitting, spiting, kicking etc. Lately he is sleeping more, really out of it. We are in a bind with him at this time. His medicines could be part of the problem (though not a major one), but if we cut them back he tends to have periods of paranoia, which causes him a great deal of suffering, causing anguish for those who take care of him. Today for instance he slept all day. On days like this we try to give him shakes, carnation breakfast is one that we use here often. A shake give him calories as well as liquid, since dehydration is a serious problem for him, so today I think we off set any serious episodes of dehydration, but I think he will continue to weaken.
He is very gentle at this time, even when he is confused, he tends to work with us, but that could change anytime. Even though he is spending more time sleeping, he still has days when he is restless, moody and difficult to deal with….however they are becoming less. Yes it has been a long haul with William, but it has and still is a privilege to work with someone like him.
Of course it is impossible to make some kind of prediction on when someone will die, for he could go tonight, or live another year or two; though I can’t see it much more than that. His intake of food is causing him to slowly lose weight, he simply will not eat that much. Even the shakes are starting to cause a problem since he is starting to aspirate when drinking. We are using thickener with his shakes and other drinks, but in the end these will also loose their ability to protect him. So like most of us, we are slowly backed into a corner, until finally we can’t move and then it is over. It can take years or decades but in the end it is the same; we wear out.
It is good to be able to make lives a little more comfortable for those in our care, and I guess you can say that those cared for and the ones giving the care learn to love one another.