There is a tension in our life together, the husband and I. He is less aware of it than I am, but even he feels it at times. The tension arises for me when I see him talking to people, as he often does when he’s out and about. Knowing that it is good for him to express himself and socialize, I usually just watch. But I also know that eventually I will have to decide whether or not to step in and rescue.
Rescue who? Usually it’s the kind person who has decided to engage him in conversation.
Before Dennis had the diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia, I didn’t feel responsible to rescue anyone, well, hardly ever. Before Lewy, he would often get in his “teacher” mode and give long lectures complete with multiple rabbit trails. Since I had heard it all before I would let him and his audience fend for themselves. His topics were still reasonably interesting to a lot of people, hearing them for the first time. Others knew not to get him started.
But now, I have his reputation and his dignity to defend. His topics are much more narrow and not always interesting to others. He’s not good at reading body language and knowing that he’s losing his listener’s attention. Sometimes his discretion is not in play and he says things he shouldn’t. We talk when we’re alone about these times and he is thoughtful and serious about doing better.
Other times he listens as well as he can to conversations but doesn’t hear or understand important parts of them. I’m often surprised to find out what he thinks he has heard.
He is still doing very well cognitively and cares about his interactions with people. He often wants to go over and talk with Mom. He loves to go to church activities. He listens to his favorite people on YouTube and other social media so regularly that they seem like family. His personality is still intact and recognizable. He is still himself, and what a good thing that is! I’m more than thankful.
The fact remains. I spend quite a bit of time explaining Dennis and his intentions to others, and a lot of time explaining others to him. I feel like the gateway to his awareness of the world, and somehow that bothers me.