Dementia, Life, Uncategorized

Memories

In my mum’s house, there are lots and lots of things. Object d’art,  brick-a-brack, pottery, figures, boxes etc.  My mum says she will need to have a clear out, but the prospect of which is too hard to contemplate. Each item is a memory of a place or a time. A holiday, a day out, an adventure.  Her whole life is there in the things around her.

To me it just looks cluttered. I have no connection to any of the items. If I had my way the majority would be gone to the charity shop.   Even when she points out that we got this or that on some visit or other., it means nothing.  I am not a “thing” person.  I have learned to travel very light and possessions really do not have any hold over me.  They are exactly that “things”. People matter much more.

But my mum’s things are hers. She can describe where each one is from, even if it takes her a minute to recall.  She is lost then in a reverie of delight as she remembers the weather and the day and the circumstances of the purchase. We can start a long conversation about an item or two which sometimes is a good way of entertaining her.

This is to be preferred than the hours of time she spends in the chair in the silence.  I personally am finding great difficulty with this. But with the trappings of modern technology e.g: earphones, I can listen to radio 4 and my mum can have her silence. I am in a dilemma though as to whether all this silence is good for her.  I offer music, the radio, the TV.  But, of course, we don’t have the TV on till after 5pm in the afternoon!  I retire to my room as a coping strategy to watch what I want, however I am aware she is downstairs alone by herself. 

So, we will talk about the history of the green vase. A ceramic bought from the factory shop many years ago.   Oh, and now I have found some old photos.  It is good to look back and get the names of people I never knew. They are after all a part of my history.  I may have to remember them to pass on to younger members of the family. Sad they are not here to share with my mum.

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Dementia, Life, Uncategorized, Wider health care

How to help?

Today has been a difficult day.

Two weeks have passed since I moved in with mum. We are slowly adapting to each other. Me, I am trying to work out what is best. To do lots of work around the house or get my mum to do as much as she can.  I hoped it would be the latter.

Sadly, she sits in her chair a lot, in the quiet.  The thing she despises about care homes.  People sitting around not talking.  No TV, no radio, no music. She says she cannot be bothered. She sleeps a lot too.  But she tells me she does do lots of stuff. She remembers that that is what she used to do.

Then when I get up and do things now, I apparently make her feel bad.  I make her feel guilty because she is not doing the cleaning, the changing of beds, the washing etc.  But if I suggest she can still do them, she says she does do them – every week! She has a routine!  She then makes me feel guilty for breaking her routine.  I do feel like an interloper into her life.

However, I suspect even when I am not here she is not doing very much. She says she changes her bed every week, however I know the bed is the same as I changed two weeks ago. She swears blind she did.  To interfere or not to interfere?  To include or not to include is a major dilemma.

She says she goes and gets a paper every day. I offered and went for a few days. But on the days I did not, she did not go.  But she still says she did.

 

But to challenge her memory is fraught with angst. She rails against me and says if I think she cannot cope, then she’ll have to move into a home. I am sure she has not quite got it, that I moved in here to prevent that.  I am beginning to realise that this will not be as smooth and easy as I thought. I had anticipated some practical difficulties, but not the constant psychological torment.

I am sure, if I just did the housework my mind would be appeased. The house would be clean and all would be done.  It is me trying to do things with her consent and do things with her that is causing the problems. She takes everything as a condemnation of her ability to cope.

But it is amazing that after each confrontation an hour goes by and you would not think we had had crossed swords at all. She forgets. 

Until of course she goes to bed and finds different sheets and asks. Why did you do that?!!!

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Dementia, Life

Moving in together

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People do this all the time and there is always a certain amount of adjustment to be made. To accommodate belongings and keepsakes that mean something to the other person, but nothing to you.  To find space where there is none, to fill with clothes and shoes and a life.

It is easier I believe if you are both changing accommodation and making a new space together. If one is moving directly into the other’s space however, then there is more adjustment required.

Imagine. I have moved back to the home of my birth. Literally! I was born in the front bedroom of this house fifty-five years ago. My parents had moved in a year earlier. 

My mother has therefore lived here for a total of fifty-six years. It is her home. It has everything here from my parents lives. My mum is eighty-four. It is full.

So how to accommodate a fifty-five year old middle aged, menopausal woman into the house again. Into her old bedroom with old memories, but with a life in her own respect forged away from this home. I have spent many more years away than I lived here as a child, teenager and young person.

One big thing – I had to bring my bed. My new double bed with extraordinary deep sprung mattress.  But a double bed takes up much more space than the old single I had used for most of my early life in this house, therefore space is an issue now in this bedroom of mine.

We emptied the wardrobe of my mother’s clothes a couple of weeks ago. In order that I had somewhere to hang my clothes. But as you can imagine I as a middle-aged woman have far more clothes than this small wardrobe can accommodate. I had some hard decisions to make as to what I would bring and what I would leave behind.  I made them and thank goodness it all fits, if a bit squashed.

The drawers in the room however, have been filled over the years with my mother’s overflow of items.  She has had a whole house to use.  When we began to clear them, it was a difficult time.  Finding other spaces to put the stuff was hard.  It was very traumatic for my mum, who really did not want the upheaval but did accept I needed some space. She is frightened of forgetting where she has moved stuff to.  This is likely.  It would be my job to remember where we had put things.

My mum has a lot of special objects obtained over time from trips and relationships.  Many of them decorate my bedroom. They mean nothing to me despite many being collected when I was a child. Some of the things have been here for years and are very sentimental. My mum says, she knows she has to get rid sometime, but not now. I agree with her but everywhere is very cluttered.  She hates it being cluttered.  She hates me adding to the clutter. She despairs about it all.

I am not enjoying upsetting her, but to live here I will need a little bit of personal space.  My life is now in one room, when I too used to have a whole house.  The adjustment is for both of us.  I am not sure who is affected most. 

I now have a small four drawer chest of drawers for my underwear, soft shirts, leggings, jumpers and socks and a small wardrobe for my hung-up clothes and coats.  I will cope.

We are now sitting and doing the crossword, the upstairs anxiety and trauma forgotten.  The benefits of a brain with memory loss. 

 

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