A few people have asked me why I’ve not blogged recently. Only reason is that I’ve been throwing myself into spending quality time with my family, during the Easter holidays. My Superwoman, Bonnie, said she was missing my rambles… So, Bonnie, this one is for you. (I just have to say how you continue to dazzle me with your tenacity xxxxxxxxx).
This morning, Mum and I had an appointment with the Mental Health Team. It was to discuss Mum’s diagnosis. When I arrived at my Parents’, Mum had got Dad ready to come along too. (Last night, I’d told her that I felt it better that Dad stay at home). Once again, Mum ignored this and insisted Dad tag along. One thing I’m really trying to do throughout this journey, is focus on the funny you can find in a situation. Fortunately for me, my Mum provides humour by the bucket load! As we were sat in the waiting area, Mum proceeded to pick up a leaflet for Dad to read. “I should have brought a newspaper for you to read, Derek, but have a look at some leaflets instead.” This particular leaflet was Devon Domestic Violence Support Service!!!!! Haha! When I pointed this out to her, she just shrugged her shoulders and said “Oh well, it’s only something Dad can look at whilst we wait!” In these situations, I can’t help but store it in my memory bank for future moments, when I can’t see the funny in life, and need a pick-me-up.
Shortly after, we were called called into a room and met a lovely lady from The Dementia Society. She was really patient, and was talking through Mum’s diagnosis. Most of the time, my Mum kept interjecting that she’s great at Crosswords! Marvellous! Think she quickly got the full measure of the Mothership! I really warmed to this woman’s approach. She was informative, yet diplomatic. Often, I’ve come across people who talk to the family members, not the person with Dementia. This is not okay! They’re still here, they still need eye contact and respect, regardless of the fact it may not be reciprocated. This woman was amazing and she’s now our ‘Go-to’ for any advice and help.
She provided a great analogy about our memory being like a bookshelf. From birth onwards, our emotional memories are huge books which sit on the bottom of the bookshelf. The smaller books are functional skills. As we get older, the top shelf of functional skills can be ignored. This can then result in more recent habitual routines being forgotten. People can sometimes take themselves back to a time when routines were very different. For example, when they used to put a kettle on a stove… Therefore, when an electric kettle is dangerously placed on a hob, they’ve forgotten more recent habitual routines. This analogy really resonates with me, especially with regard to my Dad. He’ll often find the most simple processes so impossible to master. Routines that he has carried out for many years, without having to think about, will often be met with a childlike approach.
She also went on to explain how it’s likely that 1 in 3 people will develop Dementia in their later life. These are certainly high statistics! Stress and anxiety obviously being huge, contributory factors. Sorry, a tad depressing for the Crazy Catlady blog! I’ll lighten the mood…
A week ago, I went to see Linda, Hat and Lou’s very first Teacher at Primary school. We’ve kept in contact, but I felt awful that I’d not been to see her for a few years. So, I dropped my Golden Oldies to Seaton seafront and I went to see her. We walked from her home to the beach, where we saw my Parents. They were sat on a bench with an elderly lady. Linda and I approached them and Mum began to introduce this woman to us … “This is ….. Umm this is …… This is …..This is……” Mum was clearly waiting for Dad to save her, but he didn’t have the foggiest either!! Luckily, the lady took the cue and said “Joan!” Linda and I were doing our utmost to stifle a giggle. We were grateful to ‘Joan’ for the help! I then asked Dad if he wanted an ice-cream (Yes, like Father, like Daughter!). Mum then asked Joan if she’d like one too!!! I’ve never met Joan in my life, yet I’m buying her a 99??!!
I’ve had a few funny memories on the Seaton seafront. I might have mentioned this occasion in an earlier blog, but I’m not apologising for repeating myself! I used to take Russ out once a week when I was an Enabler. I never saw him as work, just two people going out and being crazy together. Next month, it will be three years since we lost him, and I have to say that he’s prevalent in my thoughts daily. This one particular day, we’d decided to head to Seaton for ice-cream (funny that!). I needed a quick wee, so I left Russ on a bench and went into the public toilets. When I came out, Russ was in deep conversation with this elderly lady. As I approached them, he said “Here she is, this is Soph!” I just took it that Russ knew this woman, so I sat with them and we chatted to her for ages. As we left, I asked Russ who she was…. “Not a clue, Soph!” We laughed the whole way to the Ice-cream kiosk! That chance meeting would have made that lady’s day. She absolutely loved talking to him. Everyone always did.
When Hat and Lou were little, Bugs was working on a hot day in August, so I took the kids to Seaton for the day. Lou must have been about two years old, as I was potty training him at the time. I was taking pics of my two little cherubs, paddling and giggling together in the sea. When all of a sudden, Hats shouts “Lou-Lou has just said poo-poo, Mummy! And it’s coming out!!” Suffice to say, I think everyone on that beach knew that my son had dropped a weapon of mass destruction on the East Devon coastline that day!
These past 9 months, since my Dad’s stroke, have certainly opened my eyes. To have both Parents with Dementia is no picnic, but I really have learnt to appreciate the good times. Yes, we all have sadness in our lives, but I think it’s important to choose to sift through the crap to find the moments that bring a smile to your face. Hats and Al moved into a new place last weekend. They’ve now adopted Al’s family’s beautiful, ginger Tomcats, Dougal and Dylan. When Dad met Dyl, he said “what a lovely doggy!” … My Mum then agreed with him and said “He really is isn’t he!” As we were sat in Hats’ new living-room, Dad looked at me and said “Have your Parents been here yet, Soph?!”….
There most definitely is never a dull moment with my Golden Oldies!!