Posted by Tim Barber at 01/08/2012 14:18:35
As I lived 120 miles away from my mum, in deepest Yorkshire, when mum started her mental decline with Alzheimer’s disease it did cause some problems.
Whilst as the disease progressed it did take more time and effort, both in terms of care and managing financial & medical issues, I did have the escape of travelling back to my family in Leeds and having some respite from the issues.
The frequency of the car journeys down the M1 and A38 increased and the calls from relatives, neighbours, doctors and carer’s were daily but it was my aunts who were the real heroes.
Fortunately for my brother and I, my mum was one of eight children and the family were very close. Four of my aunts lived within a couple of miles of my mum and they saw each other regularly.
As my mum got worse, one aunt in particular who had lost her husband years earlier almost saw my mum as a project. She would come round and visit most days and keep me up to date with her situation. Other aunts would still play an active part in mum’s care as she declined over 5 years which helped mum to stay independent and live in her own house as long as was humanly possible.
But, the strain started to tell and my aunt would call me daily with stories of what mum had done – “she’s melted another plastic kettle on the cooker”, “her legs are getting worse again”, “she’s thrown her tablets in the bin”.
Mum started to refuse to wash and whilst my aunts and I could sometimes persuade her to take a bath on a good day, usually we were met with a hostile reaction as the dementia worsened. She would get angry with us and say hurtful things – which although we knew it was the disease were still upsetting to my aunt.
This lack of personal hygiene combined with a recurring weeping eczema problem with her legs, led to this once proud woman contracting scabies. This meant that everything in the house had to be washed and cleaned taking a huge amount of effort from her sisters and meant mums medical support was ramped up.
Until then, my aunts had managed between them and gave each other a bit of respite from mums care. They also said that my weekly trips down also gave them a few days off having to worry about mum.
The scabies issue had been such a hassle and so upsetting, it was the final straw. It led us to having a family crisis meeting and agreeing that due to a number of other risk factors, it was the right time for mum to go into a care home.
This move of mum into a local nursing home had a lot of other stresses associated with it, but for my aunts (and to a lesser extent myself) – it did provide respite from a situation which started with the need to give a bit of support to at the end taking up huge amounts of time on a daily basis with a huge amount of emotional involvement.
You can also read my previous post 'the first signs...'