I spent nine hours in the ER yesterday with my mother-in-law. I thought she had a heart attack but, after many tests and an overnight stay as observation, it turned out that she had just sprained her muscle under her breast (and it was very tender.) She doesn't remember doing it, of course, or anything else of significance.
It takes a lot of patience to sit with someone with Alzheimers at a place out of their comfort zone for such a long time. And each time she asked the same question over and over and over again, I answered it like it was the first time I had heard it. There were four areas in this particular room and we were all divided by a curtain. The man behind us had apparently swallowed about 30 pills in an attempt to kill himself. His wife was there, and she was pretty quiet, probably wondering why, and what now? I was thinking they were probably getting tired of hearing our conversation over and over. I tried to think of interesting things to talk about (as the time seemed to drag on.) She knows that her memory is failing and now is forgetting some words (as opposed to memory) in sentences. She also now doesn't remember her marriage nor her late husband (they had been married 51 years.) But in it all, at one point, she said something memorable. In reference to things (as in material objects), she said "Things are not important......People....People are important." I know that's very true. She had many pretty things and many with long stories behind them. They mean nothing now. It's the people that matter. She then squeezed my hand and again thanked me for being there. I hope the man behind us heard that.
I went to MIL's apartment to get some clean clothes for her this morning (anticipating her being discharged) and spoke to a lady who asked about her. The lady had recently had eye surgery and now her arm was in a case. I asked about her arm. She went on to explain that she had broken it in four places when she tripped in her room. Since she has such brittle bones (due to her age,) she wasn't sure if it would heal in the cast (and may need surgery.) She talked on about how she wishes she had good health. I spoke up and said that my MIL has great health but can't remember anything. I think I'd rather have bad health and at least remember my life. She agreed as we both shook her head in unison.