October 1st… His birthday.
We were in a “family” dining room at his assisted living facility. 13 of us were crammed around a table built for 8. We ate yummy Labella’s meatballs, torpedoes, anti pasta and garlic bread!
His only Sister was in town. When asked if he knew who she was, he responded in german “meine schwester”, my sister. But he didn’t attempt to converse with her. It’s almost as if he was seeing her in a photograph…. not sitting next to him at the table. It became apparent that his perception of reality is altered.
He ate most of his dinner without much help. He liked his birthday cake – but didn’t eat much of it.
He opened presents from his step-daughter… with some help. One of them was a farm animal puzzle, for ages 3+. The rest of it was packages of junk food. He thoroughly enjoyed the unwrapping part.
What does an 84-year-old man with Alzheimer’s want for his birthday?
Sadly, the answer is “nothing tangible”. It’s more about what he needs. And what he needs is to be loved, cared for, kept clean, fed and protected.
When we sang him Happy Birthday he didn’t look up. Then I wondered if this will be his last birthday? Will we get to sing him “Happy Birthday” again next year? If so, will he realize we were singing to him?