In my family my Mother has dementia. This sort of means that we live with dementia. Not on a daily basis but it does affect the whole family. It affects every aspect of family life. Of conversations, of get togethers, of the future.
But it affects none more so than my sweet, gentlemanly, stiff upper lip Father.
He lives with dementia every day. From being responsible for all the chores, to finding the eighth set of lost keys, to coercing my Mum into simple tasks like washing her hair or getting out of the house before midday. It takes it's toll. We can see it. Almost daily. We can see the stress and the strain from the consistent supervision. He doesn't complain though. It is what it is.
There is a small problem. Dementia hasn't been kind to my Mum. She ain't no sweet old lady. Nope. She is feisty, aggressive and kind of yucky to be around a lot of the time. It is the reality. She would be horrified to know how she behaves. That is the sad part about it. She would be horrified to know that the little grandchildren are scared of her and the bigger ones have to be coerced to visit. It is a fine line between accepting her as "she's your Grandmother" and coping with the trauma associated with her rants over something as innocuous as wanting a glass of water.
Sadly, she is not really able to travel and be away from her home. Or my Dad. She has reached that stage. We found that out after a particularly harrowing visit to my sibling interstate. There were many tears, and not just from the little people either.
People with dementia are entitled to 62 respite days per year. But. It is a h-u-g-e decision to put a loved one into care. At all. Thus we have watched my Father get older, forgetful and more frail under the constant state of stress he is in. This inability to make the decision though is very understandable. This is his life partner, married 50 years this year and soon to celebrate her 80th birthday. It is a difficult decision. Meanwhile we watch from the sidelines, offering support where we can. It is hard to watch because I think when you are in a situation you just keep coping. It is not until that situation has passed that you can appreciate how tricky or exhausting or difficult it really was.
So. A breakthrough of sorts. My gorgeous Father has agreed to put my Mum into a very highly recommended respite centre for a couple of weeks. So he can recharge his batteries and relax a little, knowing she will be in great hands and well cared for.
It has been a very big decision for him but now he has made it, he is planning a trip fishing to Tasmania no less, with an old buddy. This is his idea of bliss. It is still a few weeks off and there is much to be sorted but my siblings and I are joyous to know that he is having a well deserved break.
My job is to take her for her little 'holiday'. I'm not sure my Dad could go through with it at the eleventh hour. I can because I know it is necessary for both of them. My plan will be to get him to book the next soirée after this one and to do this at least a couple of times per year.
So. A plan. Some hope and some much needed R and R. Fingers and toes crossed it will all work out just fine.
- Ciao for now just Martha xx Posted using BlogPress from my iPad