Mothers day 2013 was a quiet affair at our house. It was peaceful and serene. We all ate too much and laughed at the poor jokes.
My sister and her family had just returned from an overseas trip to Europe. They had many stories to tell and we were all enthralled by the adventure they had just been on.
My mother laughed too and was moved by their stories. She continually asks about her sisters in Italy and she was glad to hear how everybody was faring.
My mother often confuses where she is, so as the stories were told she started to remember her sisters and started to think that she was back home with them. It is weird to watch how she can suddenly see other people around her. Her eyes deceive her now. It’s her memories that have become her eyes. She can be talking to you and remembering a time in her life that has nothing to do with the conversation. She will even forget who you are. She will be talking right through you as if you are not there at all. Instead you have become somebody from her memory.
Her mind struggles to sequence things and she often sets the table for six when there are only three sitting down to dinner. She knows it’s happening and can become depressed about it. This makes it worse and she will lie in bed for several days until she plucks up the courage to try again.
She has had many tests and brain scans yet they can not conclusively say that she has dementia?
You can see her deteriorate and yet there is nothing that can be done. It feels like a helpless situation but still she laughs and soldiers on.
My father finds it the biggest challenge of all. He is often confused as two or three different people. Often my mum will be talking to my dad complaining to him about him. She believes she is talking to my aunt about my father. So he not only has to endure the role of the main care taker but also the changes that have taken to his beloved wife.
My father will not hear of putting mum in a nursing home. He says she would go downhill very fast in one of those places. He has amazing strength and his love for my mother is steadfast and unwavering under difficult circumstances. He has learnt to cook and do all the housework as well as tend to his massive garden.
Nursing home or living with the extended family?
I have seen the debate rage between people about what is the best course of action for dementia patients. I lean towards the extended family approach. I know it is not always possible to facilitate this. I am certainly not saying to stay away from nursing homes at all costs. Unfortunately dementia patients struggle and deteriorate away from their familiar surroundings. So if it is at all possible you should look at making the patient’s life secure and comfortable around the family they know.
Some families opt for private care within the patients own home. This seems a really good solution if you have the means and resources to accommodate your loved ones in this way.
Of course the decision is often very emotional and it seems whatever decision you come to is met with some form of disapproval from people you know.
What are your experiences of this situation? What would you do?