“I give mum simple instructions to dress and she just stares at her clothes.” “I see her go into a room and going round endlessly in circles. When I ask her what are you looking for she says that she cannot remember.” “Sometimes dad may start a sentence and stop mid-way not remembering what it was he was going to say to me.”
All this causes confusion in my head, I sometimes despair having to repeat the same thing over and over again or fight back the tears when my dad asks me who I am and why I am there. I remember my mum alert and always so smartly dressed, my dad doing crosswords and being a source of knowledge to all my questions.
Where have they gone to? Dementia is scary for the person suffering from the condition and equally for those caring for them. The next questions to follow after recognising the signs is how will they cope on their own? How will I trust them with simple things like boiling a kettle or having a shower? How can I be sure that they will not go out and get lost as they do not know their way back home? How can I cope with their aggressiveness at times which turns them to complete strangers. What do I do?
“Dementia does not rob someone from their dignity it is our reaction to them that does. They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
These are the questions relatives of persons with dementia often ask. They themselves are struggling with a reality which they cannot cope with as it is too close to home. Then comes the guilt. The guilt of knowing sometimes our personal life commitments cannot allow that we care for them around the clock or because the needs have become so intense that they need to be cared for by professionals. So they need to refer them to care.
“You cannot imagine the impact of dementia until you have experienced it with the one you love the most.”
“I believe that dementia takes a person’s memories. It takes their ability to communicate, perform daily tasks, takes their freedom of choice. But it can’t take their values, their inherent personality. They hang on to those and so must we.”
It should be a safe and secure place where residents have regular activities. • It should be somewhere where trained professionals oversee care given. A place where relatives can visit any time of the day and still be a part of the person’s life. • It should be somewhere where care is dignified and privacy is maintained. A place where the person is still seen as a person in his own individuality and personality and not as an illness.