Their adult daughter lives with them and helps out. Mike is also looking into adult day care and is trying to get friends to take Sally out of the house now and then so he can have some respite.
"We are rarely physically intimate anymore, and when we are, she's pretty much forgotten what to do," Mike said.
Mike and Sally are not going to be celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday. Mike has to work that day, and Sally cannot cook. She can no longer operate a shower, plug in a hair dryer or use a dishwasher, Mike says.
What to do for Thanksgiving
Wayman offers these tips for spending Thanksgiving with a person with dementia:
• While preparing the food, reminisce about past Thanksgivings. But don't ask, "Do you remember when ..." something happened, since you don't know how much has been forgotten. Instead, try starting your memories with "Wasn't it fun when we ..."
• Limit the number of guests at the meal. You might even want to have two different Thanksgiving meals if there are a lot of people who would want to come. People with dementia have trouble processing and tracking information, so if there a lot of people, they may have extra difficulty following a conversation.
• Make sure there is a place for the person with dementia to rest if he or she feels overwhelmed.
• Fill your home with pleasant, traditional, soothing aromas. Put a couple of teaspoons of vanilla in a baking pan to make the kitchen smell like desserts baking. Cooking the meal may also produce smells that are familiar to your loved one with dementia.
• Incorporate the person with dementia in food preparation as appropriate, perhaps by stirring a mixture or setting a table. But safety is the priority: Wayman knows a family whose mother with dementia went to get the turkey from the oven but fell and burned herself.
Although Warzenski feels bad about her father having to be in a nursing home, he doesn't say that he needs to go home. Instead he might say, "I need to get my car," she says.
Warzenski is grateful that he is safe and won't hurt himself in the middle of the night. He does not appear to be aware that he's in a facility. At this point, she just wants him to be comfortable.
"For him to pass would be a blessing to him," Warzenski said. "He was a police officer. If he ever realized what had become of him, he would be mortified."