Saturday, 11 August 2012

Break Through...




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.
But
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

8 comments:

  1. That is such good news, I hope your Dad gets some enjoyment. Lets hope this could lead to what is needed for everyone. Thinking about youxxx

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  2. Dementia is such a cruel thing to have to deal with, and how sad for your poor mum (and your dad of course, and the whole family), but, as you say, she would be horrified if she knew the grandchildren were scared of her. Terrible, terrible situation, but I am so glad that your dad is going to have this break - a fishing trip with a buddy. How wonderful. He's got no need to beat himself up about this, as he has been doing such a good job of caring for her, and you just can't go on like that without some sort of break to look forward to.

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    1. You are so wise and your comments are so very touching. Thank you!

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  3. So familiar. My dad was mum's carer fro 14 years, from her broken hips then a stroke and ongoing alzheimers he was always there. It was hard for him to get respite as she panicked if she was moved to anywhere unfamiliar (they lived in Ballina). Then he finally took a two week trip to Broken Hill (for some reason he always wanted to go there onthe train) and had a wonderful time. The best thing was he finally visited our home in Sydney where for a few days we had him all to ourselves. When he returned his lung cancer was discovered and he was gone within a year. Mum eventually accepted the move to a nursing home as she was needing far more care than any of us could give. She cried out and swore if anyone touched her so once she got used to a nurse they had to stay there. She was there for 5 years before she went last year and sometimes she believed Dad was still there caring for her, even mistaking our brother for him sometimes. I'm sure this trip will be wonderful for your father, he deserves it.

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    1. I r-e-la-l-l-y appreciate your comment. I feel sad reading your story because there are no winners with dementia are there? It is our greatest fear that something happens to Dad and it has taken him a good 10 years to make this decision. To see his face now as he plans his trip fly fishing in Tassie and staying in Hobart is so fantastic. I have volunteered to take Mum to respite and hope it isn't too difficult but will be secure in the knowledge she is well taken care of and he is relaxing big time!. Thanks for the award too. I love your style of writing. So entertaining.

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  4. Oh Martha, you gorgeous girl. I am so sorry to hear this. What a tremendous strain for you all. Seeing one's parents age and deteriorate is so distressing. Thinking of you and your darling Dad. J x

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    1. Thanks sweet Jane. It is taking all my might not to ask Dad to shop for me at the Salamanca markets! Hehehe

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  5. Martha,just popping by to send love and support your way,your dad is remarkable and so needs this time to himself, your mum will be in very good hands.Strength to you xx

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