Husband had Alzheimer's for years before it was diagnosed, years before slight irrascibility became occasional rage, before getting lost became the norm.
When the small day care farm couldn't keep him safe anymore and there was no alternative to a fulltime care home, we found somewhere nearby, beautifully run by a team of charming nurses, where it didn't matter that he slept all day and wandered about all night, got hungry at four in the morning and liked playing the keyboard during breakfast.
They gave him plant pots which he overwatered, let him make toast at midnight, wear his pyjamas all day, push another old chap's wheelchair up and down the corridor for hours much to their joint delight. I'd bring him the paper every day and chocolate biscuits, an old friend brought wine, he'd be sent magazines and sweets, his sister 'phoned … and he mostly tolerated it.
But two years later he could no longer taste anything, television frightened him, music irritated him, the sun was too bright and he didn't recognise the moon. He'd ask if he'd ever had a job or gone to school, ask what a fork was, who I was. Then he didn't talk anymore. Stopped eating and drinking, stopped breathing, stopped living.
And now for the first time in years, he's free. As one of the daughters said, he's found a nineteenth century wilderness where he can live off the land, surrounded by trees and birds. And sad though it is, we're happy for him.