All posts tagged: dementia

Musings on Mum

I’m on the train down to the quaint English seaside town where I grew up, watching the countryside flash by. Neatly hedged fields, thick-walled farmhouses, and glimpses of bigger human settlements marked by the identical carparks and superstores. I’m trying to work out how I feel. It’s a mixture of jetlagged tiredness, slight anxiety, a little excitement, and my hopeful practice of being an open, blank slate. It suddenly occurred to me that Mum hasn’t seen me with blonde hair. Well, not since the ill-fated ‘Highlights Experiment of 1985’ anyway; maybe I should pop my blue cap on? This is a new experience: wondering how Mum is going to greet me. For as long as I can remember of course, she has hugged me hello with a squeal of excitement, and teary eyes, especially once I moved to Australia in 1987, and there were long gaps between my flights home. At my financially poorest, and most rebellious, I admit I didn’t see her for 8 years; I would HATE it if ‘18’ did that to …

‘I’ve got to get this done’: dealing with a parent’s dementia from afar

By the time this publishes, I will be en route to the UK. For 3 weeks, I am going to stay with my 82-yr old Mum, who is now suffering quite badly from her dementia. I’ve written about her before in ‘Two rocks lie heavy in my heart; the first is Mum’ . She was having two visits a day from social service carers; it went up to 3 or 4, and now it’s at the maximum of 5 visits. What an incredible gift is a welfare system hey? Some hard decisions need to be made, by family members who see her way more often than I, but it’s me who has the Power of Attorney over her financial affairs and wellbeing. Mum knows I’m coming; she just can’t remember when. Usually I pop in for a few days, then head to France (Australia is a bloody long way from Europe after all), but this time I’m focusing solely on her. Having said that, I’m going to walk every day along the beach, join the gym …

Mum update No.1

Following up on my last concerned post about Mum HERE, her younger sister ‘W’ emailed me this morning, saying she’d found Mum obviously a bit muddled last Friday, but definitely cheery. They all went out for a pub lunch overlooking the sea (which Mum would have relished), and laughed a lot. I LOVED hearing this, as you can imagine. ‘W’ confirmed that the twice-daily community care visits help Mum with eating regularly, and social interaction; I also pay for a weekly cleaner, who arrived while they were leaving for lunch, so that’s running smoothly as well. We’re all doing the best we can aren’t we? Tomorrow morning I’m Skypeing with my cousin, W’s daughter, who lives 1.5hrs from Mum, with a degree in Social Work, so is a good communicator, plus knows her way round difficult situations, and dealing with various community services: I’m so lucky! And YOU are all wonderful, with your loving, helpful, positive comments, your sharing of similar situations, and your well wishes and candle-lighting. Thank you so much; I hope my …

Two rocks lie heavy in my heart; the first is Mum

Why was I getting an email from a policewoman in England; is this the latest scam? But I recognised her station’s address, so clicked it open with dread. It was about Mum. “We’ve had a couple of calls from members of the public concerned about her welfare as she appeared very confused. I attended her home address & agree that her dementia is getting worse.” I wrote last year about Mum’s diagnosis in the post ‘She’s slipping through my fingers and there’s nothing I can do’; it’s been a waiting game since then. You see, as a child, Mum spent two years in a sanatorium, recovering from Tuberculosis, and has had a dread of hospitals and ‘group homes’ ever since. Dark things happened there, and she is forever scarred. So for the last ten years, when it would have been a smart, forward-thinking plan to move to a retirement village, and enjoy all the facilities and interactions available, she refused. Wouldn’t have a bar of it. Last year when I was in England visiting her, she …

Can I put on ‘normal’ like a coat?

I slept so badly last night, here in Australia, acutely aware that back in England, my Mum was [hopefully] being assessed by a community health care team (previous post explains HERE). I’m writing this now as I wait to hear outcomes from my cousin ‘C’, who kindly took the day off work to be there as well. I woke up to scroll my Facebook feed, which is full of #MeToo. SO MANY WOMEN. I keep saying ‘Not you too? And you! OMG it’s nearly everyone.’ Then I see the hurricane has hit Ireland, the wildfires blaze on in California, Puerto Ricans are drinking contaminated water, and North Korea has threatened Australia for aligning with America. For fuck’s sake, this is NOT normal. Or rather, this is NOT what I want my ‘normal’ to be. I can feel the anxiety squeezing my head and chest; I have a low-grade churning in my belly that’s been there for days now. And yes, I’m still cooking dinner, feeding the cat, helping with English homework, and making vague plans …

She’s slipping through my fingers, and there’s nothing I can do

I’ve written before about Mum, who’s 81 and lives in the UK, most recently HERE- ‘Mother and daughter out for a walk’ , and a longer one last year about the health situation HERE- ‘Down the long lane’. This morning I opened the late-night email I’ve been half dreading for at least 18 months: “I need to let you know that your mum is not too well… her dementia has deteriorated.  She had not been eating well and not been taking her medication for the dementia and is in a very confused state…” F*ck! There’s no other response. I feel sick. And kinda helpless. I’m in Australia, with a son who’s just started his final year of school, a home to run which includes a cat, a self-employed performing business to take care of, and Pilates clients to teach every week as well. Plus my interstate beloved ‘H’ to connect with regularly. I look at my diary, flicking pages back and forth. Can I cancel everything to jump on a plane? Is that the best idea? For …

Mother and daughter out for a walk

A hand strokes her back as they walk down the hill on this warm morning, heading away from me. Giving reassurance, or seeking it? The road is steep, and the frailer figure is definitely an old woman. Her back is stroked again, and I assume that’s her daughter, with the cherry red sunhat and white runners. Similar body shapes, similar height. I’m walking into a mall in England with Mum, July 2017, and we realize the shop she wants is up on the second floor. I know her anxiety and claustrophobia won’t let her get in a lift, and she hates escalators too. “Shall we walk up the stairs Mum? It’s not far. I can hold your arm, or you can hold the railing?” “Ooh, I don’t know, I hate heights. Will you help me?” “Yes of course. Just don’t look down. Let’s talk about something to keep your mind off the height, and definitely don’t look down OK?”  The red hat leans in to whisper something, and the older woman laughs; I hear it …