Posted by Tim Barber at 27/09/2012 14:27:19
Over the last few weeks I’ve been writing about what I see as the seven stages of Alzheimer's. This post is about the final stage, when someone with advanced dementia accepts that they live in a residential nursing home.
Mum refused to settle when she first moved into a residential nursing home. Weeks went by when she would plead with me saying “take me to my home”. Mum was in a mental turmoil and she didn’t know what was going on. She knew something was wrong with her, but her mind had declined so much that she didn’t understand when you tried to explain. This made her quite aggressive and it was very upsetting to see.
We tried telling her a little white lie that she was in a convalescence home where she needed to get better. But she’d have forgotten what you said 30 seconds later and would ask the same questions again. This can be one of the most frustrating things for carers and families, and something that I don’t think all doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals always understand.
At this point Mum could still hold a reasonable, but repetitive, conversation and would love being taken shopping or to the garden centre for lunch. You always had a bit of a fight to get her to go back to the home but this was a small price to pay for the enjoyment she got.
But gradually Mum’s memory has declined further. Although it’s been really sad to see, in a way it’s been for the best as she’s started to accept where she is –
and, as a consequence, her behaviour has become less aggressive. The inner turmoil has gradually reduced. She still has bad days, when you visit and she refuses to talk to you, but on the whole, things have gradually become more manageable.
Recently Mum’s even started to make excuses for not wanting to go out when you offer to take her shopping, refusing to leave the home. It does mean she’s fairly inactive, but the home has activity people who try and engage Mum in drawing or looking at old pictures. But she’s often much more content sitting, snoozing, watching TV and looking at magazines.
Whilst it’s sad seeing Mum gradually fade away, at least she seems to have found some peace, which does help. We still visit regularly and the decision to move into a home was the right one for her and has taken a massive strain off all the family.