Dementia blog

The Chairman’s charity this year at the Council is Alzheimers Society.  The comms team put out a message asking for blog entries about experiences of people with Alzheimers. Although grandmother didn’t suffer with Alzheimers, it was dementia and there are a lot of similarities.  Here’s my blog entry:

 

Having a grandmother with dementia is pretty heartbreaking.

 

One of the things said in the eulogy at her funeral was that she was never happier than when at home, cooking and being a housewife. 

About 2 years after my granddad died, she started giving up.  She wouldn’t cook or tidy the house.  We all thought it was just laziness – she had no-one to look after.  It only became apparent after she moved into Abbotsbury that perhaps she had forgotten.  She didn’t know how to do those things any more.  Dementia took away the things she loved to do the most.

In her latter years she was pretty terrible to everyone, but the hardest thing was seeing how she treated my mum.  She was rude and made her feel guilty about everything.  My mum went to see her 4 days a week and dealt with any problems that arose, trimmed her nails, tidied her room and bought her snacks, magazines and, importantly, a Chronicle every Friday.  Even if my mum had been with her 24/7 it wouldn’t have been enough. 

 

Sometimes, if you were lucky, you might get a smile out of her.  A laugh was even rarer.

My grandmother only died in April this year so at the moment it’s difficult to separate the dementia and how she used to be, before dementia.  My main memory is of her throwing a shoe at my mum in anger and shouting, but looking back I guess that was the dementia fully kicking in.  People think of dementia as ‘forgetfulness’ but there are so many other parts to it. In my experience, the forgetfulness is the easiest part to deal with.  I found the un-censored anger the hardest.

One particular memory I have of her in her later life is the day that Abbotsbury had a fundraising fete and she just wouldn’t get out of bed for my mum, uncle or the carers.  I went into her room and asked her if she was getting up.  Ten minutes later we were in the dining room and she was stuffing a chocolate cupcake that I had bought her into her mouth as quickly as humanly possible, ending up with chocolate all around her mouth.  It was safe to say she had enjoyed it. And I got a smile.

 

It was only after she died that we realised how advanced her dementia was and that mum had done incredibly well caring for her for the 8 years that my grandmother lived at home by herself.  Our family will always be grateful to the carers in Abbotsbury that helped my grandmother have some kind of quality of life with dementia.  They also  importantly helped the family around my grandmother.  They helped re-assure my mum that my grandmother was a fairly typical dementia sufferer.  They also provided light relief on difficult days and support when my mum and other family and friends needed it.  In her final days, they made sure she was comfortable.  That was all we could have asked for.

 

 

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Pam (originally posted 30 June 2014)

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about Pam. I guess its all linked to the recent developments with Ray which has brought her to the forefront of my mind (but then she’s never been that far from it anyway).

I am literally heartbroken about the whole ‘Ray’ thing and honestly don’t think I’ll ever see him in the same light.

I kinda hope Pam isn’t watching over him.

To be married to someone for nearly 50 years should mean so much more.

But from a selfish point of view, of course I miss her. There was no-one quite like her. To me she was one of the best people around. I could depend on her.

And right now I’m struck with the paranoia of ‘what if I can’t have children?’

I could have gone straight to her, in confidence and opened up my heart. She would’ve told it to me as it is and I’m sure provided more than a few comforting words.

I can’t do that with Ray. Not now.

I’ll never forget the look in her eyes when I took Ray a toblerone and Pam 2 bags of flying saucers from the sweet shop. You would think I had given her the world.

That’s the kind of person she was and I hope in some ways I will be somewhat like her.

Failure (originally posted 22 June 2014)

After just 1 month of trying for a baby I feel like a failure. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to try for years and years.

I don’t suppose I’m helping my body by panicking already. I thought I was going to relax into this and I’m already annoyed at myself.

I had suspicions that this wouldn’t be easy for me as before I went on the pill my periods were all over the place but I was hoping it was just because my body was settling into hormones.

What’s really annoying is that I’ve had so many traditional pregnancy symptoms. I thought signing up to a trying to conceive forum would help my endless need for information and to understand, but instead it’s just made me symptom-spot and want to take tests.

I almost want my period to appear so that I know either way as the thought of testing weekly or so until my period comes would just be heartbreaking.

I am ready (originally posted 14 June 2014)

So ready to be pregnant and make steps towards the next stage of our life. I honestly don’t know how my mum and dad continued for so long without tearing their hair out.

So many women sneeze and fall pregnant, I just wish I was one of those women. Planning is my thing, not going with the flow.

Would help if I knew what my body was telling me too.

Being in tune with my body (originally posted 1 June 2014)

It’s weird that even though I’m (probably) not ovulating yet, I am trying to get myself into good habits.

I have a pretty horrific cold with hay fever so I’m trying not to take any pills and limit my paracetamol usage.

I’m also attempting to use an ovulation charter to keep an eye on things but who knows what is actually going on.

I won’t go into too much detail as eventually other people will read this but it’s weird how elements of an ovulation cycle I used to hate as a kid and it was disgusting. Right now I’m hoping and praying for those parts and analysing everything that happens whereas when I was younger it was annoying and just messed up plans etc.

I always thought I was very patient. It turns out that I am not.

So it begins (originally posted 30 May 2014)

We are trying.

It’s scary but exciting. Having been so used to the pill and taking for granted that my period will come on a certain day and last so long its pretty un-nerving to not have that control and have to be tuned into my body in a way that I haven’t been for a long while.

Crazy to think I am effectively preparing my body for a baby now, even if it could be months before anything happens.

I hope it doesn’t take too long – the paranoia would drive me nuts.

Here’s to hoping…