Monday, 13 October 2014

Dementia diaries update

As the football season has begun again it means that we are once again sitting with mum whilst Dad goes to watch Barnsley. It is actually quite shocking how much she has deteriorated when you spend a few hours with her without dad being there. He covers for her and when he isn't there she is totally lost. It was my turn to sit with her on Saturday and Adam asked me to look after my grandson Tommy - obviously I jump at any chance to spend time with him so arrived carrying him in his chair. For the first time ever she looked at me completely blankly. I was early (so dad hadn't 'primed her') I had a baby with me - she has no idea who he is and so she was at a loss.
She struggled to keep awake, she had no idea if she wanted a drink, she got cross when I asked if she wanted to go to the toilet but then wets herself.
The whole afternoon was surreal
Mum - Who is that little girl?
Me - Its our Tommy mum , Adam's son, my grandson.
Mum - so you are a grandma then?
Me - yes its Tommy - he's lovely isn't he?
Mum - Is she your baby then? What do you call her?

This went on for several hours and she still has no idea who the baby was - nor will she remember today that we visited.
At one point they were both asleep - Tommy so calm and trusting in my arms and mum making frightening noises. I feel a whole range of emotions for this woman who isn't my mum - she would be horrified at the situation now if she could see it. We filled in forms for social services for dad, made mum a drink that she didn't have. Gave her a bun for tea which she didn't know how to eat and needed the raisins picking out of!
Dad looks poorly, he has lost so much weight it's worrying, he still cries easily but won't let anyone organise any more help - 'He can manage'. They are an accident waiting to happen, I don't know how much longer either of them can continue like this.

On Saturday I had the privilege of listening to Dr Andrew Curran talk about the brain and its functions to a group of ITL Associates. I found it fascinating. The 'Hippocampus' in dementia patients dies and has no plasticity. There is no cure.
On the positive side I asked him about prosthetic arms which are linked to the brain and the nerves in the arm as we had heard that these were being developed in America. He was positive about this as it is already happening. 
(Disclaimer - Tommy's dad dressed him in the above photo)

The brain is an amazing organ and I must reread his book as his talk was inspirational. 

I need to understand more - if ever you get chance to hear Andrew Curran then do - it's enlightening
There was an interesting interview with Ian Botham on the BBC website yesterday

in which he explains how it feels living with a parent with dementia and why he decided to stop visiting him. The quote 'Don't judge me unless you have been in my shoes' rings very true.

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