Living with dementia is a horrible thing, as people can suffer for years, with little hope for any break from the disease. The lucky ones, are the ones who forget they have dementia, and aren’t upset by it any more.
As a home carer for a dementia patient, I see this daily, and for the most part, we get used to the low moods of our family members, and everything else in between. The day things change, is when they begin to forget us… Those who care for our elders.
When they forget us, it’s a tough day.
Remember it’s not personal. They can’t help it.
My mum keeps telling me that Lesley hasn’t been to see her for a long time, when I’m sitting right next to her. I don’t know what age she’s remembering me at when she’s like that. She might be picturing me as a twenty year old or a ten-year old, or even a thirty year old with dark curly hair. The streaked blonde, mostly straight-haired woman I am today, must bear little resemblance to those memories.
We mustn’t show we are upset by that, even if we are. We mustn’t berate them for not remembering.
They can’t help it.
And if the person they are talking about has died, don’t keep reminding them that their loved one has passed on, as each time is like the first time for them. When my mum asks what her mum and dad are doing, I just tell her they’re busy and I’m looking after her today. What’s the point in upsetting her…. She might remember later on in the day, and then again, she might not. It’s not a point worth debating. As much as it hurts, let these things go, and you’ll have a much more contented person who is living with a savage disease.
I find my mum on the floor a lot. She forgets to take her zimmer, and down she goes… It’s not ideal, but it’s impossible to stop someone who is mobile, but infirm and with dementia, from falling. What’s important, is how we deal with it.
At nights, she’s now in a hospital bed with metal railings, which go up. That in itself is difficult, as she sometimes knows she needs the toilet, and then can’t remember how to call for help, despite having a call button on her wrist and one on the wall, with great big writing, instructing her to press the red button to get me.
Some days, she can follow the instruction and others, she can’t. It’s impossible for her if her blood sugar goes lower than is good for her, and going into a hypo is fairly simple now that she doesn’t eat very much. Being a diabetic with dementia is doubly tough for them.
In the end, we an only do our best, and sometimes, our best can feel totally inadequate. So, to all those of you out there, who are caring at home for a loved one, you are in my thoughts.