Quandaries, manipulation and fruit squash.

Generally, I remain determined to not let my Parents’ Dementia break me. However, on the occasional day, this determination does not seem prevalent at all, and my mental strength feels defeated. Today is certainly one of those days. This defeatism just isn’t me and I struggle to accept myself when I feel this way. But maybe we’re allowed the odd day where we feel we cannot cope with the situation thrown in our path? It’s one thing to accept circumstances (at least, acceptance to the best of your ability), but remaining positive is not always as easy.

For the last two weeks, I have become increasingly concerned about my Dad. This concern has been exacerbated by the heartfelt conversations that I’ve had with him. During the last fortnight, he has repeatedly said “I’m not sure if home is the best place for me.” As a daughter of a devoted couple, who have been married for 56 years, this is hard to hear. Furthermore, it’s a definite awareness, on Dad’s part, of just how unwell he is. It’s a contradiction of sorts, he is one extremely confused man, however, during these conversations, he has an awareness that his surroundings are no longer suitable for his needs.

All I see in my Dad, is an exhausted man, trying his best to keep his wife happy, by trying to keep up with her. It’s an impossible situation. I understand that Dementia, and all its complexities, means that two cases will never present themselves in the same way. However, my Parents’ illnesses could not be any more dissimilar. My Dad is lethargic, needing regular naps throughout the day. My Mum, on the other hand, needs letting off her lead for regular runs in the park!! Her energy levels put me to shame. Her heightened energy is relentless. I am convinced that she’s powered by Duracell! These different needs just aren’t compatible. Unfortunately, for my Dad, their life fits around Mum’s needs. This is so detrimental to his health, as he’s exhausted and weak. As I said, it’s bloody impossible to meet both their complex needs.

On Sunday, Dad brought up the subject of needing a rest again. Luckily, Hats and Al were there to witness it too. He was saying how he just wanted to go to a place where he wouldn’t need to worry about anything. He finds daily life such an effort now, but still continues to carry out simple tasks to keep the peace. He let slip that if he doesn’t lay the table properly for breakfast, he’ll get “shouted at!” I can’t begin to say how this infuriates me! My Mum has a tangled brain too, yet she shouts at him for forgetting to put the bloody Muesli on the table?!!! The daily pressure for Dad to carry out habitual routines is so wearing for him. I suggested that I ring the home where he had respite last September to see if they could offer daycare for him. Dad was happy with this suggestion. Mum hardly spoke… The calm before the storm! She will not ever verbally attack me in front of Al or Bugsy, for some reason, therefore, as Al was there, she remained quiet!

Yesterday, after work, I managed to contact the home and it was agreed that Dad go this Friday for the day. I felt so relieved, as I know he needs this rest and break from Mum. I was hoping it could gradually be built up to several days a week. This would allow Dad a proper break and reduce the demands from Mum.

Last night, my Mum phoned and was shouting at me. Telling me how Dad won’t be going there on Friday. She had managed to manipulate Dad into thinking it would be a bad idea to go to the home for the day. She was vile, and during a weak moment, I told her that I didn’t like her very much these days. The things she was saying were making me cry. I eventually had to hang up on her, as it was just too painful to listen. This is the most emotionally gruelling part of my Mum’s Dementia. She is so far removed from the person who has been the most amazing, loving, Mum all my life. The old Mum was completely selfless, always putting others before herself. If I ever needed a cry, my Mum would be the person I would run to. Now, she is the reason for my tears. I love my Mum. I hate her Dementia. It makes her cruel and shout at those closest to her. Although her brain is tangled, she is so strong, confident and feisty. Whereas, Dad has no confidence whatsoever. My old Dad was the extrovert and got such a kick out of making people laugh. These days, it breaks my heart to see him broken. The other day he said “I’m so thick.” My son-in-law, Al, said “Derek, you’re the most intelligent person I’ve ever met.” I couldn’t look at Al, his words melted my heart and I had tears in eyes. My Dad had an amazing brain. I was so proud of him. He was a fantastic Dad, Headmaster and role model. I hate that Dementia has stolen his sunshine.

Regardless of this blog being cathartic to my low mood tonight, I’m not leaving it here. Where there’s life, there’s humour….

As Bugs, Hats, Lou, Al, Rosie and I were at my Parents’ last weekend, my Mum was criticising Theresa May… That’s fine, I completely agree with her… However, none of us were ready for her showstopping comment… “She needs to stand down and let a man take over! We need a man back in power!” What an opinion! Especially coming from Mrs Forthright Duracell! I wanted to go home and immediately burn my bras… Not that I have much need for them… I’ll burn Hats’ bras instead!

Bugsy then caught my lovely Dad making himself a drink…. Orange squash, followed by fruit squash, undiluted. Syrup in a glass basically! Cocktail anyone? Hello diabetes!!  🙂 xxxxxxxx

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Quandaries, manipulation and fruit squash.

  1. Yes, you are allowed days when you feel defeated and it’s hard to feel positive – of course you are. And you and your parents have been dealt a really difficult hand, with such conflicting symptoms in them both which work against each other. That would challenge the strongest and you really are one of the strongest, Soph.

    You are so right about your Dad needing some quiet, away from your Mum, and day care sounds ideal. Unfortunately, your Mum’s dementia won’t let her accept this – perhaps it’s fear masked as anger that makes her so confrontational, not that she would be able to articulate this. The absolute cruelty of dementia is that it steals the people we know and love away. When my Dad was in hospital, before going into a home, Mum and I were visiting him and came across our old dentist, also hospitalised. In conversation, he said some remarkably inappropriate things, given his relationship with us had been purely professional, and a nurse explained he had dementia, describing it as stripping away all the learned behaviours of a lifetime and leaving just primal concerns and emotions, unregulated by societal constraints. She said that this could make someone suffering with dementia seem selfish, but that they had gone back into ‘survival mode’ with words and actions determined by self-preservation. This is still one of the best explanations I have ever heard and it helped me accept that the Dad I had known was retreating and becoming dominated by his amygdala – his fight/flight instinct for survival. Reading what you have said about your Mum, it seems she fits this description, too, whereas your Dad has more awareness, despite his confusion, and still operates on a social level. Their needs are very different now and I think it will need a professional to persuade your Mum that your Dad needs rest, not you – she now sees you as someone who will take things away, not as someone desperate to help, so her reaction against your plans will be instinctive and negative.

    All this is so destructive and will take it’s toll on you unless you are very careful. This is the most difficult time, trying to keep all the plates spinning while they are both still living at home – it sounds hard, but if/once they are in residential care, those pressures will ease for you and your Dad. Your Mum, I’m sure will continue fighting any situation, as her dementia is the more severe – that is, sadly, just the way it is.

    I’m so looking forward to seeing you all next weekend, and giving you a very big hug. Take care of yourself Soph, and try not to absorb too much of your parents’ struggles – they need your calm and love more than anything. Sending you all my love, you are very often in my thoughts ❤❤❤xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gini, no surprise, but your wisdom has really helped me once again ❤ Thank you for being so open about your own experience with your Dad. I take so much from this.
      The behaviour of your former Dentist certainly corresponds with Mum’s behaviour. The survival instinct makes total sense to me, and allows me to dig deep to find empathy for my very difficult Mother!
      We had a family meeting with just Dad last night. Mum was going mad at home, but Dad had asked to be on his own. His admission that he’s “scared” of Mum was not an easy thing to hear. This situation is most definitely escalating.
      I can’t wait to see you next weekend, it’s currently serving to keep my chin up.
      Love you Gini ❤ xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx

      Like

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