I do not know of a way through the minefield that is dementia care for the lay person without collateral damage.
After the last hospital stay for my mother, when we collected her, the doctor insisted that she needed round-the-clock care. I said I’d live with her, as usual and see how she was. It is typical of vascular dementia that each hospital stay precedes a lurching step downwards and that the ground is never fully recovered.
I was shocked upon arrival in the ward to find my mother very cold, wearing only a hospital gown. Where were her clothes? Apparently she had put them all in a plastic bag and run around into other wards, hitting patients with the bag, which she subsequently lost. You never watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest thinking that one day the principle cuckoo will belong to you. In the bag had gone everything she had taken in with her including keys, money and jewellery.
Back at home it was very, very difficult. On the Saturday night she refused point blank to go up to bed and became aggressive and threatening. As my husband was out at a wedding we’d been invited to back at home, I rang the care agency for instructions. They suggested not trying to get her up to bed at all but to bring a pillow and blanket down to her. This was a good idea but I had a better one, I bribed her with her medication. She loves taking pills. I reminded her that the doctor said she had to take the last pill of the day, which is a knock-out drop, actually in bed. I have never seen her go up the stairs so fast.
Later in the week I worked out that the reason she was becoming so aggressive was that she was running out of energy, as she was hardly eating. A glucose drink during the evening solved the problem but by then I was inclined to agree with the doctor. You cannot leave someone really loopy to be loopy alone, you have to get someone else to watch them do it.
So I did. All it took was clearing a bedroom and sitting room for the carers. adding two internal locks, a grab rail in the shower and a ton of food for everyone and taking the first steps to remortgaging the house to afford the £9,000 a month it will cost. Yes it costs over £100,000 a year to turn your house into your own private hospital.
So I did all of that, whilst being threatened, shouted at, and twice falling asleep myself at the dinner table and then came Tuesday and the live-in carers and with one bound I was poor and free. At first it all went well. My mother happily entertained, convinced she was running a guest house.
Then this evening there was a telephone call from the carers; my mother had decided to chuck them out and was refusing to be cared for. So I called her and in an hour and a half on the phone managed to talk her down without once using the D word, remaining calm and measured at all times. Captain Kirk never did a better job of persuading an alien not to invade Earth, or a blob of slime to give up a crew member. Will it last? I wish I thought so.
It’s exhausting. It’s so exhausting I nearly fell asleep in the MRI scanner, two more minutes and I’d have been snoring.
SaneLaverick.com – but only just