Tuesday 6 January 2015

The 12 Days of Parents

I have wondered and wondered about posting stuff now about my mother as her dementia erodes her own self, I've been blogging a long time now and I always felt that is you were related to me it was fair game. Now I'm not so sure.
We had as reasonable a Christmas as we could have done under very trying circumstances, having lots of people fundamentally unsuited to being with other humans (me, mainly) and all being cooped up together don't make for peace and goodwill to either men nor aunties. Unfortunately as neither of my parents can now drive and my dad has COPD, it meant they spent a lot of time at home, with me, nae luck to anybody there. Himself worked all through the Christmas break. Eldest Beautiful Daughter had to fit in visits to her dad, brother, friends & boyfriends family. Beautiful Baby Daughter was around some but with coursework, boyfriend and mates. The girls were brilliant with their nana but she's not easy to be with for long periods of time.  I did try and get them out, my mum will walk for miles, she has slowed down ever such a lot but she still loves a walk but because of my dad's COPD we are limited as to how far we can go.
Eating out is a pleasure of the past as mum eats very little now and can't cope with any kind of flavour (food was a big issue this visit) I enjoy eating out with them so much less as mum removes her teeth ( she has a plate with her top 4 central teeth) to eat or now drink anything and them smiles at everyone, alarmingly showing them her fangs, so any reports of Dracula's granny sighted in Market Harborough were just of my mother. She gets hugely cross when asked to put her teeth back in, grabs her omnipresent handbag (more of which anon) and storms out to go home.
Shopping was good, she enjoys this and can still read the word sale, double win as she enjoys a bargain. Less happy was the fight she put up when my dad was trying to dissuade her from buying a purple teeny tiny mini skirt. Anything bright pink or bright purple will be a winner, double points if it's soft and warm. This year I bought her pink UGG slippers and a pink and purple striped fleecy jumper, she loved them, Lucy said it made her look like a marshmallow flump, to be fair it did but she was happy and that seems to be everyone's goal now.

Attired in fleecy pinks and purples, she is accompanied everywhere by a large brown PVC handbag, she has lots of really lovely handbags but this  (AWFUL fake Mulberry bought from the market in Turkey) seems to be her favourite, she meticulously takes everything out of it,  always has a purse which she will check for her money, her bank cards and her drivers license (which is a laminated photocopy as her psychiatrist wrote to the DVLA to remove her license), she will show you all of these things telling you she has them. Then will come her fan (think of Spanish holiday souvenir circa 1975, all back lace and dodgy flamenco dancers) I have no idea why she brought the fan in December, she is always freezing - even in the summer and her shoes most usually if she has slippers on or vice versa. If we lost anything over Christmas in invariably turned up in Nana's bag. The bag got checked constantly if she was unoccupied, everything out, shown to you and back in again. Tinky Winky eat your heart out.
She has taken to wearing every item of jewellery she possesses all together, we are talking at least 10 rings and maybe 6 or 7 bracelets, 2 necklaces and a watch, but she can't tell time any more. The sparklier  and more bling the better, such a change from how she was before. She also likes to tell you about her rings and you have to admire them. One of the few things she properly enjoyed over the break was Lucy painting her nails, bright purple of course. She would look and admire her fingernails and then you could admire both the nail varnish and the rings.

She was much better in the morning but by late afternoon she was falling asleep on the sofa, her agitation was much higher then too. If my dad wasn't by her side she wanted to find him, waiting for him outside the loo several times a day, one comedy moment was her going out to the garden where he was having a  peaceful ciggy and a fly mug of tea to say "She says I have to leave you for 5 minutes to have your smoke"
 Her ability to converse has gone now, she can't follow the thread of any conversation, calls everyone sweetheart to avid using names and has several stock phrases which came in handy for nana drinking bingo.  She also thinks that what is on TV is real and quite often about her. She need regular updates on what we are doing/planning to do/when she is going home/that she can't go home today as the plane is booked for Saturday and it is far too far to walk etc.
Now she has declined so far, she is unable to do anything for herself unaided or unprompted, she has to be told to eat the food on her plate or drink her drink, she in not capable of choosing her food/drinks but can feed herself although my dad is now starting to cut some things up for her. She can't manage to wash or dress herself, she screamed the place down when she had her hair washed (and we HAD to wash it) she was furious with us but 10 minutes later all dry and fleeced up she was happy again.

So I had a glimpse into the groundhog day that is my dad's life, she needs him there constantly, even if she was with me for a few hours, she works herself up into a right old state about getting back to him and she only seems content if he is there beside her.
I feel awful that I can't really relieve him of the burden of caring for her, he doesn't see it as a burden, just as his life now, pragmatic chap that he is. I am trying to encourage him to take the befriender offer and use a day centre but he knows she only wants him, I try and say tactfully that he needs to look after himself as if he goes under, neither my sister or I would be in a position to offer full time care to her.

This is such a sad, sad story that I expect is very common as dementia seems to affect so many people. And sadder still that my mother will only get worse.


Little Red Hen said...

This is so sad. It must break your heart to see your mum slip away like that. I'll be thinking of you.

auntiegwen said...

LRH - it is incredibly sad, she is so frail and unlike herself, thank you

libby said...

Oh AG.....times are stressful are they not.........we are struggling here too but not to that extreme yet....but as you say nothing is going to improve...we must meet up soon...xx

auntiegwen said...

Libs - indeed xxx

London City (mum) said...

So touching and so very upsetting. I really commend your (tested) resilience in the face of such difficult and sad times.
Dementia runs in my father's side of the family - with the women. Arthritic hips on my mother's.
Have told OH to expect in due course a spouse who is unable to walk and cannot remember why.
The joys of getting older!

Sending love and hugs.


Mrs Worthington said...

This brought back memories of my father in law slipipng away. How hard it must be for you and your dad especially. Love your humour about the very sad state of affairs, it will get you through though. Get help asap he's going to need it and the sooner she gets used to new folk in her life the easier it will be, particularly if they wear purpler. xx

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Sadly this is so like what happened with my Mum and she only wanted my Dad too. Hopefully your Dad can get some help at home, it will make a difference xx

Mac n' Janet said...

You are definitely racking up some good karma with your care of your Mother. I'm like you, I'd worry about your Stepfather. My Mother-in-law almost killed herself off caring for my Father-in-law and definitely wrecked her own health.
It's sad, home you get some "runaway" time on 2015.

Gigi said...

Oh hon! Sending you and your dad lots and lots of hugs. I can only imagine how hard and heartbreaking it must be. xo

Expat mum said...

Aw.... it is sad. Your dad sounds like a solid chap I must say.

Michelle Simmons said...

Keep on, press on and hold on. It's the new year, which means more opportunities for you to rebuild and evolve yourselves together, amidst the rush of challenges and hurdles that you might face. Dementia sure is a grave matter, and it should be handled with a lot of strategizing and outreach, and I'm sure that you will provide your loved ones that. Thanks for sharing that! I wish you all the best!

Michelle Simmons @ Fairfax 211 Comfort Keepers

AGuidingLife said...

difficult times. well done for the patience and care you have and forgive yourself for the times you don't have it.

Sonya said...

How incredibly sad and difficult for your whole family. I hope you can persuade your Dad to put support in place now. Take care of yourself xx

Trish said...

Oh my, this sounds so sad and stressful too. Your dad is very resilient but it must make your heart ache.
In a smaller way, I am now taking care of an elderly aunt who has moved to a retirement home near me. She was taken into hospital over Christmas so I have been visiting and dealing with her confusion. I think with her it is temporary but she is frail and needs a lot of care. It's scary and, as she hasn't any children of her own, it's now down to me.
So I sympathise and send my love to you x

Anonymous said...

How sad for all of you.

My father died almost totally aware, after a home nursed agonising cancer death. My half-sister's father did a slow torturous decline into dementia and eventual hospital end of life.

We still debate over which was the hardest to deal with: I think hers and she thinks mine.

It is all utterly shite.

auntiegwen said...

LCM - all that exercise will definitely help (and B vitamins) x I read about dementia A LOT!!!

Mrs W - yep, we have to keep him afloat, sad how many of us are affected by this x

LFBS - it is the hardest thing for him to say no to her but he really will have to, sadly x

M & J - it really takes it toll on the spouse doesn't it? blimey I was frustrated within the first afternoon

Gigi - hope you're doing okay lovely xxx

Ex P M - he is, thankfully for her

Michelle - thank you

KV - not sure I have any patience! surely is needed here, can you buy some?

Sonya - ah I'm the least affected by it all, that 350 miles difference doesn't lend itself to me popping in xx
Trish - may thanks x it seems once you get to a certain age it becomes hard to avoid family difficulties and stresses

Anon - indeed, utterly, utterly shite, none of it is easy just different,shall we run away and join the circus?

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Young at Heart said...

Having seen what friends' parents have gone through I feel my father and step-father were lucky to die so suddenly and without a lengthy illness or dementia....even if some think mid-70s is not that old I would rather leave wanting more.....you are doing so well to deal with it all!!

auntiegwen said...

YAH - it's my dad that's dealing with it really, I don't think I could have the patience with my mother that he has, sadly