age, carers, Dementia, Uncategorized

Time to Care

 

My mum has not been well this week.  She needed another dose of antibiotics. She has been very tired and lethargic and I am having to help her more in the mornings now to wash and get dressed.

This development made me think about all the paid carers out there, who must be at a particular house, at a certain time. They get someone up; washed and dressed and possibly breakfast too; all in about a fifteen minute or, if you are lucky, a thirty-minute call.  It is impossible.

It is impossible if you are trying to maintain someone’s independence. Giving them some autonomy over their life, their day.  It is impossible to ensure someone’s dignity in the process too.

Let me explain. 

 

My mum was tired she really did not want to get out of bed at her usual time about eight-thirty.  She at 84 has a right to choose when and whether she gets up in my mind.  Yes, I know she needs to get up and eat and move around to be healthy, but if on the odd occasion she doesn’t feel like it, why should she?  Would the carers make her get up?  Would they be able to come back later?

I left her for a little while longer, after I had given her a drink.  I then helped her to have a wash in the small bathroom.  I let her do as much for herself as she could and wanted to do but of course this took longer and she was breathless so needed to sit down and take it slow.  I helped her to dress too. Knowing what she usually wears and how she likes to wear her undergarments is essential. Do the carers who come in know these small but important aspects of dignity.  Especially if it is a different carer every day?

Once dressed we moved downstairs for breakfast. My mum has a range of breakfast cereals and rotates them each day. But she will say if she fancies a different one. I warm the hot milk she likes and make her a cup of tea. By now she is tired again and says she needs to sleep again. Breakfast sometimes takes a long time.  If you as a paid carer are needing to be off to your next call, it must be very hard to give choice and give time. What must happen if they have to actually feed the person?

I am very lucky. I can give my mum all the time she needs. I try and work with her so that she is doing what she wants to do. Don’t misunderstand me I do get frustrated if I am going out to work and things are going a little slow. I do get annoyed when I make a meal and she sits and looks at it as if I have given her green worms to eat.

 I get tired doing all the washing ironing and cleaning. No less than every housewife in history. I have become a housewife!!!  I have never been a housewife.  But there are more sheets now and of course she complains “are you washing again!!!”.

But I love my mum. She can be really funny. I am sure those pop-in carers would not appreciate the humorous moments we have.  I am glad I am free to care for my mum and have a flexible enough job to cope for now.

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Short story, Uncategorized, wordpress 101

YARN

via Daily Prompt: Yarn

My dad could tell a good yarn. He would sit at the back of church and tell stories to make people laugh as they arrived for mass. He would also tell stories to the little people to keep them entertained.

To spin a good yarn means that the story is not all that truthful.  A story that entertains but is not necessarily based on fact.  It leaves the listener asking “really?” Like I said my Dad could spin such a good yarn that people did believe what he said. With the added factor of a bit of gossip mixed in. People were not sure what was the truth and what was not.

 

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age, carers, Dementia, Life, Uncategorized

Major upheaval

When people with memory problems go through major upheaval apparently, it can have a major effect on how that person copes. My mum has understood that she needed a new central heating system but I don’t think she quite got it that this would mean huge disturbance.

We tried to keep this to a minimum. I packed all her treasured belongings away in boxes. I even labelled the boxes so we would know where they went back. We kept my mum’s bedroom much the same as possible. It was me on the mattress in the spare room. I had to collapse my own bed in advance of the work.

My mum spent the day of the big works at her sisters and the workmen did do as asked and we were back in the house on the same day with heating and water. This was amazing and I thanked them profusely.

The trouble started as we started to put carpets back and replacing items on the walls and shelves.

Yes, I knew almost where things went back but could I remember the actual positions of each item. The answer was no and my mum did not know either. All she knew was that she had all this stuff and she could not remember where they went. This distressed her greatly.  Even when I decided to only empty one box a day she was very anxious.  It was just more evidence her how bad her memory had got.

When my brother and I disappeared to put the carpets back she would ask. “What are you doing?” a thousand times. Even when we explained, because it was a new thing, she could not remember from one minute to the next. 

Four days on the house is gradually coming back together. I am tired with the physical effort but exhausted with the mental strain. I feel I could sleep for a week.  Thank God for a Bank Holiday. But then again, my mum will be up and ready to go to the bank on Monday because that is what she always done. It will take her a day to realised she cannot go.  Oh, and there is another one at the end of May! 

 

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Uncategorized

Conquer – Daily post blog

I have just read on WordPress about a woman who has “conquered” her addiction to alcohol. (Barb Knowles, sane teachers)  I hear about others who have conquered their fears to go up mountains, fly, even go to the dentist.  But conquer is a verb, a doing word now word.  What am I currently trying to conquer?

I am trying to do better at work. To win more opportunities to make more money with the time I have to spend at work.  I am having to conquer my fears of what people might feel when I appear on their doorstep and ask them for an interview. I am having to deal with rejection on a daily basis and try not to take it personally. To conquer this fact of life of a market researcher is taking me longer than anticipated.

To conquer means to win in my head not just defeat someone or something, I am trying to win at dancing. To learn the moves and apply them to the music without making a fool of myself. To win at singing being part of a new choir. To conquer my anxiety and let my voice soar. To be part of a whole that sounds much better than single voices.

I continue to conquer each day.

 

via Daily Prompt: Conquer

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age, carers, Dementia, Life, Uncategorized

Independence to dependence

 

Before I came to live with my eighty-four-year-old mum, apparently, she was doing the cleaning, the washing and the ironing. She cooked her own meals and one for her son once a week.  She needed transport to the bank so my brother took her and my aunty stepped in to take her shopping on a wed and Saturday.

Hmmm but was she doing all this stuff?  We have rows now about me doing the cleaning on the wrong days!  She does it weekly she explains. “Upstairs on a Tuesday and downstairs on a Thursday”.  When I say, she has not done it since I have been here, she goes ballistic as if I am calling her a liar.  I am just explaining it needs doing.

When I come downstairs with washing after changing the beds, again she verbally attacks me. “Where has all that come from? I only wash twice a week”. So, I don’t do it.  After a couple of hours she then goes to the washing basket and again asks me “where has all this come from?”.  I explain again and we relive the two days a week washing rule again.  This happens every week.

Every time I take out the hoover I get accused of making her feel that her house is dirty. That I believe she has not done it.  I don’t believe she has not done it, I know she has not!  But I am happy to do. But she greets it all as if I am criticising her.  I am honestly not, just getting things done.

She falls asleep a lot.  Then when I try and coax her out to do things she gets flustered. When I coax her to phone for her home chiropodist to come as her feet need attention, she says she will do it. But then time goes on.  She says her feet hurt, so I coax her again to phone to make an appointment. She says irritably “I’ll do it!”  Later that day I encourage her again. Offering to make the call.  “You don’t trust me to do anything, do you?”

“Where’s Tommy?” She asks for the umpteenth time today.  Asking about the tortoise behind the sofa.

I get her the phone and the address book and she makes the call.  We write it on the calendar.  Then she looks at me as if I am mad.  “That was simple she says”.

She makes her breakfast and has done her lunch today. I offer to make her, her tea.  I am just trying to be nice. “You can if you want to” she says.  I just don’t want to do everything for her, I want her to remain as independent, for as long as possible.   She says thank you afterwards and we agree it always tastes better if someone else has cooked it.

 

“There’s nothing on the telly tonight she says” but she watches anyway and falls asleep.  I ask her what has happened in a soap we both watch. “I don’t know” she says and she clearly does not.  A lot of it is going over her head now. Background noise.  She cannot follow a detective plot at all.  She finds reading hard too.

She is looking at the calendar now just to make sure the appointment for the chiropodist has been written down. She asks me what date it is today and what day it is.  I have written on what she does on the regular days to help her. She chides me “you needn’t write all this on the calendar you know, I can remember!”  “Is B coming shopping with me tomorrow or is it you?” she asks.   I reassure it is her sister coming at the usual time.

 

Then she laughs as I help her in the shower. We are now in a routine of twice a week.  She was too scared to get in on a regular basis before by herself, because she was scared of falling.  We make a joke of her shower cap. I remember to warm the flannel as it was “too cold” last week.  I make sure her feet are dry and moisturised. She says how funny it is that the children have now turned into the parent. 

I say night, night and she sleeps.

 

I live every day with my mum’s frustration with herself.  The world is getting very distressing for her. She loses things on a regular basis. She gets upset. She says “it’s just stupid”.  She knows she needs help but does not want to accept it. She does not want to “spoil my life”.  I reassure her that I am here because I want to be. 

She accepts that getting up the front and back steps is an issue. I rang the council to arrange for handles to be put on to assist.  When I say what I have done, she gets really angry “I don’t need them yet!”  After discussion, she says it is OK but I bet we have a ‘hoo har’ when they come to put them on.

Then she asks “when are you going back?”  She still has not quite got it that I am here to stay for as long as she needs me.  I am not quite sure whether she wants me to go away for a bit.

I am having a life outside my mother. I do Yoga and Salsa and have also joined a choir.  Weekly activities that get me out of the house as well as part time working. This is the case for now. This may change in the future.

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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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