My Mum’s response of “I don’t like changes” to my suggestion of looking at bungalows, or supported living, really resonated with me. Her life has changed significantly since my Dad’s stroke in July. As has mine. I’m certainly not the same person I was prior to Dad’s stroke. I see life very differently now. However, her lack of acceptance for a change regarding their living arrangements is so difficult to manage.
Yesterday morning, as my Parents had the Occupational Therapist there, I was able to give myself a couple of hours breathing time. I went and had cuddles with a gorgeous baby, Albie. This really did me good. Thank you, Jen, for letting me spend time with you and Albie in your gorgeous new home xxxx
My Parents-in-law came over at lunchtime, so I brought my Parents to my house to see them. As I got to my Parents’ to pick them up, the atmosphere was heavy. Mum said they’d had a difficult morning. The OT had apparently seen that things were tricky when she arrived, and she had spent the time talking through things with my Parents. I felt guilty that I’d had time away from the fragile situation, but I knew, for my own well-being, that I had needed that break. Dad found it really difficult being around all the family in the afternoon, whilst my Mum savoured every minute of it. Dad told me that Mum had been cross with his anxieties. I know when he says “cross,” he means that Mum has shouted. I hate this.
When I dropped my Parents home at 5pm, Dad was convinced it was 9pm and he wanted to go to bed. Mum shouted at him that he needed supper before bed etc. I don’t tolerate her shouting very well. She’s attacking a man, who, prior to his stroke, was the most intelligent member of our family. Sadly, now he is left so mentally damaged that he can’t fathom time etc. Explaining to Mum that Dad is completely powerless to this confusion and damage, is completely exhausting. I find the complexities of all the different emotions I feel, on a daily basis, so incredibly hard to manage at times. Dementia is screaming at Dad. Dementia is losing its patience with Dad. Dementia is belittling Dad. Dementia is stripping all my Dad’s self-confidence. It’s not my Mum. My Mum has always loved unconditionally. Cared unconditionally. She’s always been patient with people. I love my Mum. I despise dementia.
This morning, my Mum was having her hair cut and coloured. It was so lovely to have that two hours on my own with my Dad. We had a walk with Evie, then he came home and slept on my sofa. My Dad is very low right now, and very tired. The time apart helps them both cope, but this has a time limit. After an hour and a half, my Dad was telling me how much he missed Mum. He repeatedly asked me when she would be ready to pick up. This shows just how connected they are, yet so fragile.
I’m still reserving judgment on new strategies to make my Parents’ life easier to manage each day. It has been suggested that Dad could go to a day centre during the day. Again, I am yet to hear about this. My Mum said that the OT mentioned going to a stroke group. Mum told me that it might do Dad good to see others “worse off than him, those who have been left physically disabled.” I completely disagree with this. Obviously, the worse case scenario is death from a stroke. However, I really do feel that to be left mentally disabled, post stroke, is harder for a person. I actually have found myself wishing Dad had been left with a weak leg, or a weak arm etc. His broken brain is so scary for him. His world is now one of confusion and emotional turmoil. With no concept of time and other habitual routines, life is so difficult for him. Executive dysfunction is so cruel.
Life has changed so dramatically during these last four months. I just want to get to a place where both my Parents’ needs are being met. We’re certainly a long way off from this right now.