Posts Tagged ‘Dementia’

In so many ways I wish this wasn’t the end of 2015, as once again I find myself looking back over the last year with great sadness.

Mum 70thWhile 2014 had not been great as Mum was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, she had coped well with the chemotherapy so I had certainly started 2015 full of hope that 2015 would bring good news for Mum. Sadly my hopes were dashed early on, as we got the news in January that while Mum’s treatment had helped to a certain extent, the lymphoma had continued to progress so were told they no longer hoped to cure Mum, but still hoped to get her illness under control for as long as possible.

Despite a course of radiotherapy and then starting a course of oral chemotherapy, it was clear in July, Mum’s illness was progressing, and so Mum was admitted to hospital for further tests/treatment. after further scans/test we were summoned to meet with the doctors and Mum, and were told there no further treatment they could offer Mum as her illness was continuing to progress quite aggressively. After a few days of discussion with Mum and the palliative care nurse, Mum agreed to go to the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice, initially just for a couple of weeks so we could all be sure she was going to be able to be safe if she went home. Sadly though, Mum never got home, as on the 6th on September she passed away peacefully in the hospice.

TiggerMum wasn’t the only member of my family to pass away this year, as in April we also had to get our cat of almost 20 years, Tigger, put down. We got Tigger as a wedding present on our 1st wedding anniversary, so he would have been 20 years old this July. There was a huge emptiness in our home after Tigger died as other than the first year of our marriage, he was part of our married life, so it was a big change for us not having Tigger around the house anymore.

That wasn’t the end of things either as another member of my family passed away from dementia/Alzheimer’s – my Aunt Vida, passed away in August less than 3 weeks before my Mum died.

I’m not quite sure how I’ve got through these last few months, particularly as this included clearing out my Mum’s house, which had not only my Mum’s belonging, but also many of my Dad and my Aunt Mae’s things too (they both died in 2013) – This was one of the hardest and most upsetting things I’ve ever had to do. I feel that in these last few weeks, that Mum’s death has really hit me hard, as prior to that I was so busy clearing her house and getting organised for hubby and I moving to my Mum and Dad’s house, I don’t think I really had much quiet or alone time to stop and think about all that’s happened this year. One thing I do know though is that my world fell apart when Mum passed away. Other than my hubby, Mum was the last of my immediate family who remained, so now Mum’s gone I feel so very alone – Mum knew how I was going to feel when she passed away as I remember her saying to me just a few weeks before she died, that she wasn’t ready to go yet as she wanted to be here for me. I really wish Mum was still here for me, but sadly her time here on earth was up, however I am reassured in the knowledge that Mum will now be with her Lord and Saviour, and that we will be reunited one day.

Just as in previous years, it’s not only been the bereavements that have been on my mind this year, as there have also been several other ongoing life issues to cope with this year which have added to the stresses and strains of 2015.

I’m finding life quite tough just now, as I really miss my Mum and continue to miss my Dad too. After my Dad and my Aunt Mae passed away 2 years ago there was one song that stuck in my head for a few months as it reminded me that no matter what I’m facing, and how bad life seems, God is there for me and He will always be there for me, and that song has once been going through my head again – so here is Kutless with Promise of a Lifetime:

So as you can see 2015 has been an awful year for me. I really hope and pray 2016 is a happier year for me and my family!

I hope 2015 has been a far happier year for you than it was for me, however if it wasn’t, I hope you have had the love and support of family and friends to help you through the year.

I pray that as we look ahead to 2016 you may go forward with confidence knowing that whatever situations you have to deal with, God is by your side not just during this Christmas season, but all year-long.

The Promise of a Lifetime by Kutless
 
I have fallen to my knees
As I sing a lullaby of pain
I’m feeling broken in my melody
As I sing to help the tears go away Then I remember the pledge you made to me  I know you’re always there
To hear my every prayer inside
I’m clinging to the promise of a lifetime
I hear the words you say
To never walk away from me and leave behind
The promise of a lifetime Will you help me fall apart
Pick me up, take me in your arms
Find my way back from the storm
And you show me how to grow
Through the change I still remember the pledge you made to me
I know you’re always there
To hear my every prayer inside
I’m clinging to the promise of a lifetime
I hear the words you say
To never walk away from me and leave behind
The promise of a lifetime  I am holding on to the hope I have inside
With you I will stay through every day
Putting my understanding aside I am comforted
To know your always there
To hear my every prayer inside
I’m clinging to the promise of a lifetime.
I hear the words you say
To never walk away from me and leave behind
The promise of a lifetime I know you’re always there
To hear my every prayer inside
I’m clinging to the promise of a lifetime
Looking back at me
I know that you can see
My heart is open to the promise of a lifetime 

Well thank goodness that’s us just about at the end of 2013, because for me, although it seems to have been a very quick year, it’s been a really rotten year!

Dad at our weddingI’m getting a feeling of deja vu here, as I seem to recall saying at the end of 2012 it had been a tough year for me…if I’d know what lay ahead in 2013, 2012 would have seemed like a walk in the park!

So we’re almost at the end of 2012. I don’t know about you, but this year seems to be over nearly as soon as it began! I know some will tell me that’s a sign of getting old, but I refuse to believe that, as I think it’s simply been because there’s been so much going on in my life this year…again.

I should have known when 2013 it was going to be a tough year as right from the start of the year it was apparent that Dad’s dementia was deteriorating, as from just before the close of 2012, Dad would not eat or drink anything, and thus was hospitalised on 4th January for the 2nd time in a few months.

Sadly this time he did not recover, and at the start of February Dad was discharged from hospital to his nursing home on end of life care. I think it was only when the nurses at the nursing home said “end of life care” that Mum finally realised what the hospital had been saying for the last couple of weeks. On the 21st of February, my Dad lost his life to vascular dementia.

Aunt Mae (Aug 2011)In January my Aunt Mae (Mum’s sister) was moved from her care home to the nursing home my Dad was in, as her dementia was causing her to become violent towards the staff at her care home and they could no longer cope with her there.

The week after Dad’s funeral, we got summoned to my Aunt Mae’s care home as they were waiting on an ambulance for her as she had a bad chest infection. It turned out they thought she’s had a mild stroke, but when they went to do the CT scan to confirm this, she had another stroke. Sadly on 3rd April my Aunt Mae passed away, due to a combination of her stroke and her dementia.

I’m not quite sure how I got through those months as being the guardian for both my Dad and Aunt Mae, I had to do all the organisation (with help from Mum and Sandy), clear out both Dad’s and Aunt Mae’s belongings from the nursing home, stay strong form Mum who, as you can imagine, was devastated. To be honest I don’t think it really all hit me until about May and then I really struggled to come to terms with the death of 2 of the people I’ve been closest to.

Unfortunately this was not the end of the bereavements for my family, as in mid November my Dad’s sister died, also from dementia, which knocked my Mum for six again, as we were always quite close with my Auntie Mabel and her family as when I was young, we used to spend just about the whole of our summer holiday’s in Cambridge with her and her family.

Sandy’s side of my family also suffered a couple of bereavements this year, so all in all we’ve had far more than our fair share of family bereavements this year. Add to these bereavements, my hubby’s health issues and my own on-going health issues, and you can see it’s not been a great year for us.

I’m still finding life quite tough just now, as I continue to miss my Dad in particular, but there’s one song that has been stuck in my head for a few months now which keeps reminding me that no matter what I’m facing, and how bad life seems, God is there for me and He will always be there for me – Here’s Kutless with Promise of a Lifetime:

So as you can see 2013 has been a rotten year so I’ll be glad to see the back of it! 2014 can only be a better year can’t it!

I hope your 2013 has been a far happier year than mine has been, however if not, I hope you have had the love and support of family and friends to help you through the year.

I pray that as we look ahead to 2014 you may go forward with confidence knowing that whatever situations you have to deal with, God is by your side not just during this Christmas season, but all year-long.

The Promise of a Lifetime by Kutless
 
I have fallen to my knees
As I sing a lullaby of pain
I’m feeling broken in my melody
As I sing to help the tears go away Then I remember the pledge you made to me 

I know you’re always there
To hear my every prayer inside
I’m clinging to the promise of a lifetime
I hear the words you say
To never walk away from me and leave behind
The promise of a lifetime

Will you help me fall apart
Pick me up, take me in your arms
Find my way back from the storm
And you show me how to grow
Through the change

I still remember the pledge you made to me

I know you’re always there
To hear my every prayer inside
I’m clinging to the promise of a lifetime
I hear the words you say
To never walk away from me and leave behind
The promise of a lifetime  I am holding on to the hope I have inside
With you I will stay through every day
Putting my understanding aside

I am comforted
To know your always there
To hear my every prayer inside
I’m clinging to the promise of a lifetime.
I hear the words you say
To never walk away from me and leave behind
The promise of a lifetime

I know you’re always there
To hear my every prayer inside
I’m clinging to the promise of a lifetime
Looking back at me
I know that you can see
My heart is open to the promise of a lifetime 

Aunt Mae (Aug 2011)Today, the 23rd October, is another sad day for us, as today would have been my Aunt Mae’s 91st birthday.

It’s now just over 6 months since my Aunt Mae passed away, but just typing these words have started my tears flowing again. In many ways it seems like just yesterday Aunt Mae passed away, just 6 weeks after my Dad died. However in many other ways it seems like an eternity since both Aunt Mae and Dad were here with us.

I have thought of my Aunt Mae every day since she died.

I have shed many tears every day since Aunt Mae died.

I have missed my Aunt Mae every day since she died.

As Aunt Mae’s dementia worsened, she, just like my Dad, failed to recognised us or acknowledge that she knew us and latterly her personality completely changed, as she went from being a loving caring person to someone who was angry and aggressive…that just wasn’t my Aunt Mae. Having said that, during her final few days in the hospital, she did seem to have a the odd moment of clarity, as at one point when Mum apparently told her I was on my way in to see her she smiled and tried to say my name…

I am in no way saying there was no bond between Aunt Mae and the rest of my family, but I know there was always a special place in her heart for me, after all I was named after her as Mum and Dad gave me her name as my middle name, Mary.

These have been incredibly difficult months for my family, and my Mum in particular – Mum’s struggled to come to terms with the death of first my Dad and then Aunt Mae, but she’s getting there, as am I. I would however ask that today, as we remember my Aunt Mae in particular, on what would have been her birthday, that you continue to pray for us as we continue to grieve the death of two much-loved members of our family, my Aunt Mae and my Dad.

I love you Aunt Mae, and I miss you so much. You’ll always be in my thoughts and firmly in my heart. Dorothy xxx

dementia-handsI was disappointed and saddened a few days ago to hear someone who said they had experience of a family member suffering from dementia, say that dementia was simply about memory loss. Yes, it is about memory loss, but it’s also about so much more than that!

While there are still people who consider dementia just to be about memory loss, I don’t think it’ll ever be considered as a serious life-changing and life-threatening illness – We all forget things sometimes, so to me, talking about dementia as simply memory loss, almost seems to trivialise it as we tend to think of those instances when we ourselves have temporarily forgotten something.

From personal experience dementia is so much more than just forgetting things, it’s about the change in their personality – those who have been mild mannered and caring may become aggressive and angry; it’s about no longer being able to care for and look after yourself; it’s about no longer understanding that you have to eat and drink to live.

For me one of the worst things was seeing the fear in their eyes of my Dad and Aunt Mae as they realised what is happening to them, knowing they could do nothing to stop the illness take over their lives. Forget a few thing doesn’t do that to anyone, dementia does, and it’s heart wrenching.

Here’s just some of the symptoms dementia suffers may experience, not all suffers experience all these symptoms but they will definitively experience some…you can see at a glance it’s more than just about forgetting things!

  • increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning
  • memory loss
  • depression
  • changes in personality and mood e.g. A person who was previously withdrawn may become very outgoing, or vice versa; a quite mild mannered person my become loud and aggressive.
  • periods of mental confusion
  • wandering during the night
  • aggression
  • low attention span
  • believing in things that are not true
  • slower movement,
  • shaking and trembling of arms and legs
  • shuffling while walking,
  • problems sleeping
  • visual hallucinations
  • compulsive behaviour,
  • speaking far less than usual, or not speaking at all,
  • having problems finding the right words to express themselves

I hope you never have to cope with anyone in your family or any friends suffer from dementia because it really is a cruel illness – I’ve been there and witnessed it first hand with several very close family members, and therefore have seen first hand how it affects not only the sufferer but their family and friends too…it’s awful.

Please always remember, dementia is  not just about forgetting a few things, it’s about so much more!

Today is my Mum’s birthday (and no I’m going to tell you what age she is today!), and is it’s also another day when I’m sure we’ve both thought a lot about my Dad as it’s Mum’s first birthday since my Dad and my Aunt Mae passed away.

I had hoped to take this week off work so I could spend more time with Mum in the run up to her birthday, but that ended up not being possible. I have however spent some time with Mum several night’s this week so that hopefully she hasn’t all her time thinking about Dad and Aunt Mae not being with us any more.

We have arranged to take Mum out for dinner tonight to celebrate her birthday so hopefully she’ll enjoy that and, although we’ll probably end up talking about my Dad and my Aunt Mae tonight as we often do, but hopefully it’ll be because we’re remembering the good times we spent with them rather than focusing on the fact that they both ended up with dementia/Alzheimer’s and ultimate both died because of that awful illness.

So happy birthday Mum. I hope that despite it being a another day when we’ll think of those who are no longer with us, we’ve managed to make it a good day for you.

happy birthday mum

Relationship_with_God

This last week my blog posts have focused on faith, culminating in finishing yesterday’s blog post by asking you:

Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do you have faith in Christ?

So I asked you yesterday about your faith, but what the faith of those you love, your family and friends, do they believe in Jesus Christ?

Well for me that question has played very heavily on my mind since my Dad died earlier this year. Why? Because my Dad always said he didn’t believe in God and therefore, as far as I know, he died with no faith…

Having said that, several people have told me that because Dad had dementia and therefore found it difficult to communicate with us or understand what we were saying to him or asking of him, that doesn’t mean he didn’t find God, or more accurately God didn’t find him, before he took his final breath.

I’ve been struggling to come to terms with this for months, however some words from another family member have given me some comfort – Please remember as you read this that just 6 weeks after my Dad died, my Mum’s sister, my Aunt Mae also died:

Aunt Mae was a very proud and loyal Salvationist and although your dad wasn’t a believer, he’ll be watching over you proud that you are and I’m sure he will be up there now learning about what you, your mum and Aunt Mae have spent your lives celebrating! God will have a place for him, he was a great person with a huge heart. I don’t think there’s anything for you to wish you had done more, when someone lives their whole life a certain way without the guidance, maybe its hard to adapt. Aunt Mae will be showing him the light.

god-is-in-controlEven as I write this post, the tears are streaming down my face, because those words remind me that yes, Dad professed no faith for many years, but who knows what seed Mum, Aunt Mae and I may have planted and how that seed may have grown as Dad’s dementia took him from us. I’m reminded that in the last few months that Dad lived at home with Mum, he would burst into tears during some of the songs/hymns when Mum was watching Songs of Praise on a Sunday night. He could never tell us why he cried, however I now look back on those occasions and wonder, and pray, that somehow God managed to reach Dad through the music.

I have prayed so many times in these last few months that Dad found God before he died. I also continue to pray that God will use me to influence my other family members who have not yet given their heart to God, because when my time comes to leave this world, I want to be sure I’ll be reunited with my whole family in heaven – but, at this moment I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

If any of your loved ones have not yet accepted God into their life, I pray that they too will God before their time on earth is over.

death of a loved oneIn the last couple of weeks since my Dad passed away, I’ve found myself saying a number of times, “The last time I was here/did this, Dad was here”. Some of those memories have been ones I’ve smiled at other have been ones where I’ve shed a tear because even in these memories Dad’s illness was taking hold of him and turning him into a shell of the person he used to be.

These are the memories that will remain with me forever, and I’m sure in the coming days and weeks, many more memories of my Dad will come flooding back to me.

The Dad I knew and loved left us a few years ago as his vascular dementia took over his life. That however hasn’t made it any easier to cope with the death of Dad, as although he was not the Dad I knew, physically, it still looked like him, even right to the end.

Memories are all I have of my Dad now, but my love for him will live on, forever.

Take from our souls the strain and stress and let our ordered lives confess, the beauty of your peace

I could really do with some of that these last few days!

kneelAs many of you will know, my Dad passed away last Thursday morning after suffering from vascular dementia for a number of years. In many ways it’s  a relief that Dad has passed away as in these last few years, he’s had no life, and there was no chance of him ever getting better, only worse. Dad’s last few days were painful for us to watch, and he would never have wanted to live like this, so it’s probably for the best that he has passed away

My Dad professed no faith, but as my cousin said the other day, “He (my Dad) had many other qualities”. God has never wanted or expected us all to be good at the same things, so I believe that although Dad professed no faith, God’s qualities and talents were God-given.

It’s been a difficult time for Mum and me, so I’d like to take this opportunity to ask those of you who are praying people, to say a prayer for us tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday 27th February) as we say our final farewell to Dad. Many thanks for the love/support you have already shown my family during these difficult days, it has been very much appreciated by all of us.

Rest in peace Dad xxx

So we’re almost at the end of 2012. I don’t know about you, but this year seems to be over nearly as soon as it began! I know some will tell me that’s a sign of getting old, but I refuse to believe that, as I think it’s simply been because there’s been so much going on in my life this year…again.

emergency-signIt’s been another tough year for me:

  • Supporting my hubby as his health has deteriorated
  • Supporting my Mum for the first half of the year while she struggled to continue to look after and care for my Dad at home as his dementia worsened
  • Supporting Mum in the second half of the year as Dad first of all was in hospital for over 10 weeks and then moved into a local nursing home
  • Visiting my aunt who has been living in a care home for over 2 years and who reached the grand age of 90 in October
  • Various trips to A&E with my hubby , my Dad and my aunt – and of course they were all long waits, and sometimes during the night
  • Hubby’s retirement – which looking back on things was the best thing he could have done given how his health has deteriorated since he finished working
  • Several family bereavements
  • On-going health issues of my own

In amongst all that I’ve managed to keep working full-time, and unbelievably haven’t been off sick all year! Not quite sure how I managed that as there were some days when my pain levels were so severe I really don’t know how I managed to get through the day at work, but obviously I managed it somehow!

Anyway, enough about my year. I hope that whatever this year has brought you, good or bad, you will have made the most of your time with your friends and family as we never know what tomorrow will bring. I pray that you may have felt God‘s blessings on you during this year, and as we look ahead to 2013 you may go forward with confidence that whatever situations you have to deal with, God is by your side not just during this Christmas season, but all year-long.

All Year Long by Michael W Smith

This Christmas season I wish you joy
The wonder in every girl and boy
I  wish you gladness, the warmth and cheer
Of good friends and family gathered near

May children’s laughter in falling snow
Rekindle those  sweet scenes from long ago
May every carol, each candle bright
Remind  you why angels sang that night

If trouble finds you, this is my  prayer
May peace come into your hearts and make you strong
 And I wish you luck, the kind to last all year-long

Why is it when you try to help some people you just get your head bitten off and they go all defensive about what they’re saying it what they are trying to do?

As you’ll be aware if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, my Dad suffers from dementia and so I’ve been doing my best to support and help my Mum as much as possible, particularly over the last 12 weeks or so while Dad was in hospital. I’ve been trying my best but much of the time it has felt like my best just isn’t good enough, as no matter how much I’ve tried to help and support my Mum, she’s made me feel at time like I’m not helping, or that I’m saying things that aren’t helpful, and so she gets annoyed me with.

I know Mum doesn’t mean it to come across like this, as I know she does appreciate my help and support, it’s simply that she’s finding it difficult to come to terms with the fact that Dad will never be home again, and after more than 55 years of marriage that must be so hard for Mum to cope with. So I guess it’s simply been that me saying things as they really are is hard for mum to hear as she’s still finding it difficult to accept how things are with dad these days.

No matter what people say or do sometime when you try to help them, don’t ever stop trying to help them, as often those in most need are those who “push” those trying to help them away.

Stay strong and continue to reach out to those in need.