After three weeks, I called a couple of Tim’s friends to ask how he was. They were relieved to hear from me.
“We were just about to call you!” one couple exclaimed. Newlyweds P. and C. had moved into Tim’s apartment complex just as he was moving back in. The husband told me, “I’m no doctor but I’d say he has mild to moderate dementia. I’m a substance abuse counselor and Tim needs an intervention–not for drugs or alcohol but to convince him he needs to get help! He’s fallen several times. He has cuts and bruises. At least three times we’ve heard him yell for help from his apartment.”
His wife C. poured out her own concerns: “The other night I heard all this noise outside the gate [to the courtyard.] It was Tim, trying to unlock it. I waited seven minutes, then went downstairs and let him in and he kind of slumped down. I picked him off the ground and had to help him walk to the foot of his staircase. I waited until he got up to his door to be sure he’d make it.”
(Another neighbor, who lives at the foot of Tim’s staircase, says he and his wife hold their breath every time they hear him going up or down, fearing a crash.)
“I’m worried about him when he goes out at night,” C. added. “Once he brought a homeless man back with him and was going to have him come live with him. I said, ‘You don’t have room, Tim,’ and managed to talk him out of it. I told Tim he shouldn’t go out at night and when he asked why, I didn’t mention he could be mugged or worse. I just said, ‘Our eyesight isn’t as good at night. There’s more chance of falling.'”
C. had only met me once, but she told me, “He tried to say you were the cause of all his problems. I said, ‘Your sister is not your enemy!’ I wanted to smack him!” Bless the woman!
I told both of them, “He has help available. He has Life Alert. He has been approved for In Home Social Services. An intervention is fine but first someone has to get him back on his Ginkgold to reduce the confusion and paranoia or he won’t listen to anyone.” C. offered to try that, to get him back on all his pills, so we brought them to her. (I hadn’t trusted Tim to have them all.)
Another woman friend (another “C”) told me, “I insisted he get his telephone connected because otherwise he won’t know when I’m at the gate to pick him up for Hebrew class. He finally did. When I meet him at the gate–it opens out, you know–he practically tumbles down the steps. When he tries to stand, he lists so far to the left, it’s all I can do to hold him upright. His cane doesn’t help at all.”
On some level, Tim knows he needs help. He told one person that the newlyweds, P. and C., invited him to come live with them. I seriously doubted this and later P. and C. denied it. He told another, “I’m going to go live with L. and her husband.” L. laughed when I told her this and said, “Never happen!”
He is nuzzling up to other women, mothering women, bossy women, micro-managing women, wanting to be taken in and taken care of again, while at the same time he is demanding his right to live on his own.
C and P, the other C, L and her husband all gave me permission to share their phone numbers. I asked them if they were willing to tell Ted, our third sibling and co-condo owner, just what they’d told me. They were.
Armed with all this, I called Ted. I said Tim was more than just “a bit fuzzy” and told him to call these independent witnesses who could verify that I wasn’t just making it up, that he’s not doing well.
To his credit, Ted did.
P. told him he’s known Tim 12 years and has watched him slowly deteriorate over the past two.
C. told him Tim gets more irrational at night, the typical “sundowners’ syndrome” of Alzheimer’s.
The other C. told him she has known Tim 3-4 years and that he is getting more muddled about dates and schedules, expecting her to pick him up on the wrong days.
This sobered Ted, correcting the impression that the problem is me. I told him Tim fabricated his claims that friends have invited him to live with them, that he’s moving in with them.
Ted said he will try to persuade Tim to get help.
I told P, the substance abuse counselor, “If you’re going to set up an intervention, here are the numbers of other people who care about Tim and want to participate. Jerry would come, too. But count me out of it. My presence would just make him mad.”
God heard my cries. He is forming a whole new net, a network of many. My only part in this one is to stay away and pray.
He is good. All the time.