age, carers, Dementia, Life

Mum: Things that are working/things that are not

Over the last few months we have now developed a routine. She had a routine but there is now a her and me routine too. It has taken a few months to settle but she is not shouting at me quite so much.  She even says “I am glad you’re here” sometimes when we have had to get over a difficult moment.

So mum gets up to go to the loo about 8am 8.30 and then she goes back to bed. I get up and get the breakfast things out. It really is important to me that she still sits at the table with the tablecloth and the teapot and an old-fashioned glass milk jug.  This was her standard. I try and keep to it but I do know when I am not here she does the minimum but at least she can still do the minimum.

Then I will go to work. On Mon and Wed she either goes to the bank with my brother or her sister shopping.  This means I am a little anxious to ensure she is ready to go out when they arrive. I recognise this is my anxiety more than hers or theirs but she tells me she hates rushing and not being ready when they come. So I try and help her to be ready.

I try and make sure she looks good when she goes out. She has always been known for looking smart and colour co-ordinated. So we try and keep the standard.

At 11 she usually has a cup of coffee with a piece of toast or a couple of biscuits.  This is to keep regular food throughout the day for her diabetes.  I am not sure she was eating something at this time before I came to stay with her. She had lost weight.

At 12 12.30 we have lunch. I try to be there most days. Just for a sandwich or soup.  It is great that my job allows me to pop back.  My mum will have been asleep in the chair.

Then the afternoon I have either gone to work or we try and do something around the house. Cleaning, cooking, ironing etc.  My mum would have changed all the curtains by now for summer. Sadly, we are a bit delayed this year. The things is it really would have bothered her in the past but doesn’t seem to anymore.

Then we have tea/dinner around 5 -5.30.  My mum gets a bit jumpy if it is not on time.  She does still make her own tea but it takes a while.  I do cook most meals now. Or  I try to make them as easy as possible when she has to do it for herself. We are both paranoid about gas taps on the cooker being left on. But I can be as forgetful as her if not more so.  Maybe I have dementia?

We generally watch TV in the evening. Most soaps and some drama and then the News and then to bed. I am not sure my mum can follow the story anymore. If I react to something she asks. “what happened?”.  I also work on my computer at this time. It means we can be companionable in the same room but doing what we both want to do.  Earphones are a marvellous invention.

My mum really likes quiet. So I can have the radio going in my ear and not disturb her.  But we can still have a conversation.

 We are often in bed by 10.30 and I help her shower a few times a week. She is frightened of falling and it is a bit of a struggle physically and psychologically but we manage.  I am grateful for the early night I was not aware of how tired I might feel.

But there are some things that are deteriorating and beginning to worry me.

 At breakfast she struggles with the boxes of cereal, even the plastic boxes she bought herself.  She has also developed a tremor when she tries to drink her tea. This has become more marked over the last couple of weeks.  She is not walking as well as she was either.  She has definitely got a “wobble”.  We can laugh about it and we have decided to call her Mrs Wobble, a new character for the Mr Men series.  Her sister, my aunt, who has a wheeze has become Miss Wheezy.  But we do laugh which is good.

She has been on antibiotics for an infection but her cough still is quite bad.  So today the doctor is calling. My mum will not like it but I think it is important that she gets checked out. 

I am now getting concerned as I am supposed to be working at the weekend. Beginning already to feel guilty for leaving my mum.

But my brother says he will call around in the day when I am out.  I have to say, he has done a great job of the garden and my mum does have a lovely place to sit. But getting there with Mrs Wobbly is getting harder.

 I do wonder if I have done too much for my mum and made her “give up” slightly.  If you don’t move, your ability to move does get less. She spends a lot of time asleep in her chair.  But I want to look after my mum. I want to cook for her and help her if I can.  She is 84.  It is a constant psychological battle.  We have to be grateful for every day.

There has been a bomb in Manchester that killed a lot of people at the Manchester Arena. My mum watched the telly all day.  She said she felt she had to.  This is not like her she only turns it on in the evening. But she is right there with the whole of Manchester standing together against this outrage.

age, carers, Dementia

Who is looking after who?


“Have you got your money?” I asked my mum on the doorstep.  “Yes and I’ve got my hanky!” she cheekily retorted with a smile.

We both appreciated the poignancy of the moment.  I was seeing my eighty-four year old mum off to church, like she had seen me off many times to school.  The tables had turned and now I was ensuring my mum was OK instead of the other way around. I watched her till she was safely in my cousins’ car.  I did have a feeling of what many mothers feel like sending their child off into the unknown. I have not had children myself so have never had this experience before. It is funny that I am going through it now.

I constantly wonder however, if I am doing the right thing being here. Making meals for my mum that up until February she had been totally capable of doing herself.  But having witnessed her in the kitchen with the pans and the gas, I do feel safer being around.  There has been the odd incident of burnt pans and overcooked food in the microwave.

She also cannot reach for things on the top shelf like she used to. She mutters with frustration and huffs and puffs. When the plate clatters to the floor she cries out in exasperation.  “Why can’t I do this anymore?”. I reassure to the best of my ability, but it is hard watching and waiting till she gets to the point where she needs me.  I know she feels better when I do most things for her but the  current that idea is she carries on doing as much as she can for herself.  I am actually surprised sometimes by what she can do, if I don’t do it. 

But it does take her longer. She will often exclaim in pain as her legs “won’t go” anymore.  What kind of a daughter am I? Of course, I step in.

I am finding one aspect of this memory loss business fascinating though. It is like my mum has a pre-programmed set of responses.  You say something and out comes the stock standard reply.  It is very strange but if we talk at all about my Aunty, my mum then goes on about not wanting to bother her. That “her life is that church”.  The same story, over and over again. 

The people next door also prompt the response “I don’t know who they are”.  Sadly, the neighbours’ house was turned over to the department for asylum seekers a few years ago. A number of families from all points west, have occupied the house in that time. My mum has now stopped trying to get to know them.   So, the stock answer now is always, “I don’t know who they are”.  This is even though she has met the new family and their children several times since I have been here.

I think that because she makes the same response It is almost comforting. She does have something to say. When other people meet her they say, “isn’t she chatty”, “she has her wits about her”.  It is only you who know that she is just repeating scripts she has said many times before.

You mention money in any way and she tells you how she can never forget the rent. This is after her mum was made to feel small by a lady at the corner shop who was owed money by her mum. “I will never owe money” my mum says. But I have heard this same story almost every day since I came to Manchester.  The button to press is just to mention money in any way.

Every Sunday evening my mum begins to worry about the bank on Monday morning. Every Sunday evening she starts getting things ready. She worries about “not paying something” she goes on and on. She walks around from place to place finding what she needs for the bank on Monday. This goes on for a few hours.  I think this may be the beginning of what is called “sundowning” described by the Altzeimer’s Association. Something happens in the evening after the sun goes down to unsettle the person. Making them anxious, talkative, walking.   Currently I am lucky that when my mum goes to bed she generally stays there.

I am getting worried though now about personal care issues. She does let me help her shower. But I have a feeling she will need more help over time.  What happens if I go away?  What am I setting myself up for in the future?  I am doing more and more laundry, but what the heck she thinks I do it every day anyway!