Posts Tagged ‘Caregiver’

If you’ve been following my Tweets in the last week, you’ll be aware that I’ve been on holiday from work since Thursday of last week. The main reason I took the time off was because last Thursday my Dad, who suffers from vascular dementia was going into a local care home for a week’s respite care, to give my Mum a break – My Mum still cares for Dad 24/7 at home, and has been finding it increasingly difficult to cope.

So last Thursday afternoon, Mum and I took Dad to the care home. When we got there, we were waiting for Dad’s assigned carer to come and get us and take us to Dad’s room to get him settled in, when Dad burst out crying…it was heartbreaking to see, and Mum got a bit upset, but it was simply because Dad didn’t know where he was (despite us telling him lots of times) or why he was there (again, despite us having told him a number of times).

So we got Dad settled into his room, and Joan, his assigned carer said she’d take Dad along to the day room and get him a cup of tea and a biscuit, so Mum decided we should just go then, rather than stay and confuse Dad. As we were getting ready to go, Mum told Dad we’d be back to take him home in a week so he just had to stay here for a few days. Dad’s response to this was, “Thank goodness for that, as I don’t want to stay here!”. Probably not the best thing Mum could have heard before we left Dad, but then we have to remember that in 2 minutes time Dad will have forgotten what we’ve told him anyway. Having said that it didn’t stop Mum getting a wee bit upset again as we left Dad – It must be hard after being married for well over 50 years and now seeing Dad like this…

Anyway, onto cheerier things…over the last week while Dad was in the care home, I spent some time with Mum every day, either going for a meal and/or going to various shopping centres for a wander round the shops, as well as doing our usual weekly supermarket shopping. The first couple of days Mum still seemed quite tense and stressed, although after that I think she began to relax and seemed to enjoy her “free-time“, even although every day she did still tell me she missed Dad.

Before we knew it, the week was over and so yesterday (Thursday) it was time to go back to the care home and collect Dad and bring him home. When I got over to Mum and Dad’s to pick Mum up to head down to the care home, Mum seemed quite stressed and was quite nippy with me several times, although maybe that was because she was worried about Dad as the care home had phoned her this morning to say Dad had a urine infection. Mind you they’s told her there was a prescription ready for Dad at our health centre, and instead of just leaving it there so we could pick it up when we were on our way to the care home to collect Dad, Mum got a bus down to the health centre this morning and collected the prescription and then got the medication at the chemist! I was a wee bit annoyed at her for that as she has a sore back/hip and so walking to/from the bus/health centre would not have done her back/hip much good…particularly when we could easily have collected it on our way past the health centre to the care home!

When we got to the care home, Dad was sitting in the day room with several other folk, with some music playing in the background. The worst thing about it was Dad didn’t know who Mum was! He seemed to know he knew her, but she had to explain who she was…that was sad. We brought Dad home, and all the way home in the car and when we got back to their house, he kept telling us he had no idea where he was, where he was going or why…that was sad.

When we got back to Mum and Dad’s house Mum opened the door and went in, Dad just stood on the doorstep – Mum told him to come in, and he said he’d come in in a minute. Mum told him to come in again, and Dad got annoyed and shouted,”Alright I’ll come in then!” – Argument number 1 already.

It funny in a sad way, as Mum and Dad very rarely ever argued when I was growing up, and when they did it was usually over something I had done (or not done!). However these days, Dad does get quite annoyed and a bit verbally aggressive towards Mum at times, but although we know it’s simply one of the side-effects of his dementia, it’s still upsetting for Mum.

So Dad’s back home with Mum again. I just hope that this last week when Dad’s had his week’s respite care, that I have been able to help Mum relax and recharge, so she is able to care for Dad at home again. It’s been a tough week for Mum not having Dad with her, but knowing she needed a break and that he’s getting well looked after. It’s also been a tough week for me, as I am finding it hard trying to stay positive and strong for Mum (as well as for hubby with his illness), I’m not complaining just wanting to point out to you all that when someone in your family suffers from dementia, it not only affects their carer(s), but their whole family.

Mum tells me she prays for patience a lot, and I can understand why, as I too pray for patience daily. Although we both need patience in different ways, I am sure God can, and will, answer our prayers for patience.

I’d ask that if you are a praying kind of person, you pray for my Mum and Dad, and that Mum will find the patience and strength to provide the care dad needs, without detriment to her own health. Thank you.

In Wednesday’s paper, the Herald, there was a very poignant article by Sally Magnusson entitled Magnusson’s torment at mother’s dementia battle. It really hit home for both Mum and me, and I’m sure many other’s who have family members or friends, who are suffering from dementia.

As you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog for a while, my Dad was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago, and over the last couple of years his condition has deteriorated very rapid. My Dad is still living at home with my Mum, with my Mum caring for him 24/7.

As Sally Magnusson says in her article in the Herald this week

Caring for my mother at home, even only part-time in my case with the help of my sisters and latterly a team of wonderful carers, has been psychologically gruelling and physically draining,” she said.

“How much worse for those who are caring alone and cannot afford extra help.”

when you’re caring for someone with dementia, it’s not something which just takes up a small part of your time, it is a 24/7 job, one which is not just physically exhausting, but also emotionally draining.

Please don’t think dementia is just about forgetting a few things, it’s not, it’s a horrendous disease which sucks out the person you know from their body and leaves an empty, helpless shell. It’s a disease which not only affects the person with the disease but also those who care for them, as there’s no remission for them from looking after the sufferer.

The person I know my Dad to be isn’t here anymore, yes, when I look at him I see my Dad, but that’s about the only part of him which is still recognisable as Dad:

  • He is no longer able to dress himself – Mum has to help him do that
  • He no longer knows or understands how to wash himself – Mum does that 6 days a week with a carer coming in to give Dad a bath once a week
  • He doesn’t recognise family members…including me which was very upsetting when it first happened. Although I’m now used to him not knowing me, it still is very upsetting
  • He doesn’t recognise or know people he’s known for years, such as neighbours and friends
  • When outside the house, he doesn’t know where he is
  • He sleeps most of the time

One of the saddest things watching Dad’s condition worsen, was when he went through a stage of bursting out crying for no apparent reason, other than just simply frustration at what was happening to him. I know how upsetting it was for Mum and me to see, but imagine how my Dad must have felt!

I do my best to support my Mum as she cares for Dad 24/7, however I never feel as though I’m able to do enough because I can see how difficult it is for Mum. On the plus side, Dad’s been into a local care hom,e a couple of time in the last 4/5 months for a week’s respite care, which has allowed Mum to get a bit of a break and a rest. In the last few weeks Mum’s talked about how she’s not sure how much longer she will be able to look after Dad at home.

It’s sad it’s come to this for Dad, but for the sake of my Mum, and her health, I was pleased when Mum told me she had asked her social worker to put Dad’s name down on the waiting list for the local care home. It’s upsetting to think of Dad not being at home, but ultimately he doesn’t really know where he is or who he’s with anymore, so as long as he’s comfortable and being looked after well, that is all I can ask.

If you are a praying person, can I ask you to pray for all those suffering from dementia and also for those caring for them. Thank you.

Well that’s us at Sunday night again, so where has this last week gone?!

This time last week, Dad wasn’t too well, and we were looking forward with trepidation and relief that come the Monday, Dad was going into a care home for a week’s respite are so Mum could get a well-earned rest.

This must have been one of the quickest weeks ever (I know Mum would agree!). I’ve taken Mum out somewhere every day bar yesterday when she went to my cousin’s for dinner – We’ve been out for lunch, dinner, shopping, wandering round the shops, as well as cleaning out my aunt’s house, so I’ve kept her busy! Normally when Dad’s at home Mum doesn’t really get much time away from him at all, as she doesn’t like to leave Dad alone for very long these days so I think it’s been good for her to get a chance to spend some time for herself…even if most of it has been with me!

I think Mum’s enjoyed her week, even if she’s maybe not had a chance to do some of the things in her house she’d intended doing…but then a week’s respite shouldn’t be spent doing housework should it!

Anyway, it may have been a quick week in some ways, however in others it’s been a very tough week, wondering how Dad is and how he’s getting on – I know Mum has phoned the care home several time to see how he is and been told he’s ok, confused and a bit emotional but doing alright. I can’t imagine just how tough this has been for Mum being apart from Dad, after all they’ve been married for over 50 years!

So tomorrow we go back to the care home and pick Dad up and bring him home again. I wonder whether he’ll understand what’s happening and that he’s going home…will he even know who we are? Time will tell!

I’ve been writing about what’s been happening with Dad because vascular dementia is such a rotten illness, and is indiscriminate about who it affects, so I just want to let you know a little of the challenges and daily stresses that face both the sufferer and their carers, and how draining physically and emotionally that can be for the carer.

Finally, I’d just like to say on behalf of both Mum and I a huge thank you to all who have prayed for Mum and Dad this week, and those who have phoned or visited Mum to see how she was getting on – Mum really has been appreciated it, and I’ve been thankful that so many of you have offered support to Mum too during this difficult time.

Thank you.  .x