Do you care for someone with Dementia?
When my mother-in-law Sheila was looking after her husband John with Alzheimer's she never let on how difficult she found it. Since John died two years ago I have been able to speak to her about how she coped in his final years.
She said she would often wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning and wonder what sort of day she was going to have. Worrying about getting through the day and dreading what it may bring. Every morning was the same, with the same daily routine of washing, dressing, cooking meals and providing twenty-four hour care for John.
Whilst caring for John she also had doctor appointments and shopping to fit in around him. On one occasion in particular, she reminded me of how on a shopping trip John got in the car and drove home, forgetting that he was not allowed to drive but also that Sheila was still in the supermarket. She started to ignore her own health and hence became physically and mentally exhausted ... sometimes without realising it. They stopped seeing so many of their friends and the things that they looked forward to doing together were difficult and sometimes no longer possible.
They had been lucky and were able to do a lot of travelling in their early retirement years before John became unwell, but now even their three trips to Devon a year became difficult. As a family, we took John on holiday with us but we had to have eyes in the back of our heads. Even my teenage daughters were exhausted.
We frequently told Sheila that she needed respite, time to go on holiday, to get a few days break. However she always replied "I am fine at the moment, I will get help when I need it." She then broke her hip and had the next few weeks in hospital. She described the attention and rest she received as being a taste of freedom from the day to day troubles of caring for someone you love with Dementia.
A note from my daughter.
"I really wish we had found somewhere like The Mede to go to with my Grandpa before he went into a nursing home. Instead the holidays we attempted to continue with were stressful, returning to places we thought he would remember but he didn't and that was sad. It was just not the same.
It would have been so nice to have gone somewhere different, where Grannie did not have to worry about the cooking or constant care. We could have taken it in turns spending time with Grandpa, but also maybe going out to supper with Grannie knowing he was being well looked after.
I have seen people come and go visiting The Mede and they all are so grateful to the tailored care and attention my mum provides.
I wish my Grannie had had this opportunity to enjoy some last holidays with Grandpa."
Perhaps if Sheila had had a few holiday breaks along the way she would have felt more able to cope with John.....
Perhaps if you were able to get away with your loved one , you'd feel the same....
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