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The Good, the bad and the ugly of dementia! - Carers UK Forum

The Good, the bad and the ugly of dementia!

For issues specific to caring for someone with dementia.
385 posts
First, a not so brief potted history.

My father first mentioned his concerns regarding my mother’s memory about November 2010. Me and my brothers all thought he was exaggerating as she seemed fine when we occasionally visited them. We fobbed him of with the usual, “Don’t worry dad, she’s nearly 81, it’s just normal old age,” etc, etc.

It was only over the Christmas holidays that we too noticed mum’s strange behaviour. We were practically in one another’s pockets, what with all the visiting back and forth, so we could hardly fail to notice it.
The first time I noticed it, I was in their kitchen making soup. Mum shuffles in (she has terrible arthritis) wanting to know what’s in the saucepan. I told her.
In the space of 30 minutes she must have asked me the same question about ten times. This was definitely not normal old age forgetfulness.
Then she was fine for a couple of days, and I began to dismiss my concerns. Then it started up again.
I was watching Corrie with her, her grandkids, my bro and sister-in-law. She wanted to why some character was in hospital. That raised a few eyebrows as mum’s a long term Corrie junky and never misses an episode.
It was explained to her why. 5 minutes later she asked the same question again, as if she’d never asked it in the first place. This time every one sat bolt upright exchanging puzzled glances. This questioning carried on until Corrie was over.
The next day she was fine, until we all sat down to watch Corrie together. The exact same thing happened again, with the exact same question… dad had been right along!

To compound things, he announced the day after the New Year that he had prostate cancer. He needed someone to mumsit mum (she’d occasionally left the gas on, left taps running, etc) whilst he underwent his out-patient clinic treatments.
I worked evening shifts, so I was the ideal candidate and I volunteered for the task.

That’s how my job as mum’s carer started. Initially, it was just 2 or 3 times a week during the day, and I could easily manage that.
However, as both her mobility and memory slowly but surely began to deteriorate, coupled with my dad’s weight gain/lack of strength (I noticed that he tired very easily) from his treatments, that increased to 4-5 days a week.
I had to cut my hours at work, which led to an extended battle with the council over Housing Benefit, which took months to get sorted.

Fortunately, dad was given the first all clear, regarding his prostate cancer, about this time last year. He still has to attend clinics for various things, and takes a range of medications.

Earlier this year, mum had a stroke, and was hospitalized for nearly two weeks. Fortunately, it was only a mini stroke, and she made a remarkable recovery, all things considered. But I still had to give up my job in order to become her full-time carer.

Right! Now my potted history is out the way and done with, I can get on with the main point of this post.
Since I’ve become mum’s carer, we’ve got along much better with one another than previously. We’ve had good and bad times together, but never ugly.

Until today…. She accused me of being a thief!

I should add here that I, more often than not, stay the night at my parents’ house. I only live 12 miles from them, but the cost of petrol and tunnel tolls became too much for me. Me staying the night also helps dad out, as she’s an early riser and he’s not.

Anyway, my mum got into her head that I’d stolen her duvet cover. Yesterday I decided to wash my bedding, and mum insisted on helping me hang it out on the washing line. This made the task more difficult, but I was happy to go along with her (anything for a quieter life, plus she likes to be ‘useful’, which is understandable, and I like varying her day.)
Earlier today, about 7.30am, I took her out into the garden. She looked at the washing line, looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face, time and time again.
Puzzled myself, I asked her what was wrong.

Where’s my duvet cover?

No mum that was my duvet cover we hung out yesterday, not yours.

Personally, I was pleased she’d even remembered us hanging out the DC yesterday. Normally, a bomb could go off in our street and she’d forget about it by the next day!

She seemed happy with my explanation, but 30 minutes later, she started up on it again. I had to give her back the duvet cover.

“I don’t like people taking my things,” she threw at me, as she shuffled off to stow it away in her airing cupboard.

I was so hurt by her accusation, I didn't know whether to burst into tears or laughter; I did neither. She’s NEVER accused me of stealing before… as if I would!

I decide to let sleeping dogs lie instead, hoping she’d forget about the DC incident.

But she didn’t. Now she won’t stop apologizing to me.

“I’m awful sorry S, I forgot our duvet covers are the same.”

“No problem mum, we all make mistakes. Forget about it, I have.”

Etc, etc, etc.

Her dejected look and constant apologizing are worse than the original accusation!
I ended up feeling like I’d just shot a baby bunny rabbit in the face, despite my reassurances to her that I didn’t mind (which I don’t.)
In the end, as my dad has no appointments, I gave them some cock & bull story about having a stomach bug and needing to lie down in my room.
I’ve been battering away at my laptop ever since…. And feel a lot better for it.

This forum is a sanity saver!
Yes, Forum is a life-saver.

You will find a lot of thiefs in the dementia world. We steal glasses, bras Image , hearing aids and now duvets .... Sad but inevitable.

Reminds me of my conversation with mum yesterday:

A: when the home help (can't be called a cleaner because mum doesn't need a cleaner) comes, she needs to change your bed
M: why, what's wrong with it?
A: Nothing, just the sheets are dirty. I have left the clean ones out.
M: Well, clean sheets won't make the bed better, will they? If the bed needs changing, we need to buy a new one.
Pause ...
M: to think you're meant to be the educated one and you don't even understand that!
I so totally know where you're coming from. My mum often flabbergasts me with her comments/trains of thought. They often make sense, in a weird kind of way.
My mum and me were watching a program about drug takers (my mum is very anti-drugs; she has to be in agony with her arthritis before she'll even contemplate taking an Ibufren.)
The program got onto how easy it was to get drugs nowadays, and that some junky parents fed their kids methadone to keep them quiet.

Mum: Those drug dealers never hung around when you were little.

5 minutes later: Shame really, I could have done with some of that methadone.

Me: Was I so bad I nearly drove you to drugs?

Mum: Not for me, stupid! For you. You never slept, and never stopped crying!

Well, that was telling me, wasn't it!

'...methadone...not for me, stupid! For you! You never slept...' Image I can see where you get your sense of humour from now - your mother sounds like quite a character. Image

Maybe this thread would be a good place to quote other amusing things said by carees with dementia. Here are a few gems that Dad has said over the past few months:

In a restaurant: "Kid's menu...why would they have meals for goats in here?"

In a pub, when an Abba song came on: "I was in Sweden once and saw that blonde woman from Abba... she was sat in the middle of a lake, breastfeeding her baby." (He wishes!)

In a pub, totally out of the blue:

Dad: "They called the police on me last night."

Me: "Why Dad?"

Dad: "Because I went outside and threw a brick threw the window! There was glass everywhere and the manager got annoyed with me. I was fed up with being held prisoner!"

Me (trying to hide feelings of panic): "Are you sure your memory's not playing tricks on you Dad?"

Dad: "No, of course not! But the police just said I can leave any time I like." On returning to the care home I checked with the staff and found that no such thing had happened.

In care home:

Dad: "These girls, they'll do anything you want, you know... for £50 you can have one of them warm your bed for the night!"

Me: "Are you sure you've not misunderstood...?"

Dad (snappily): "Of course I haven't. Don't look so shocked or I won't tell you any interesting stuff any more!"

Me: "OK." (Silently praying he won't share any more such gems with me.)

On the down side, Dad occasionally asks me if his mother is still alive (died about 30 years ago) and at times he's accused me of taking his money and threatened to call the police. Image It must be terrifying, knowing that you can't trust your own mind and that your brain is packing up, piece by piece.
I'm sure that's where mum's obsessions come from (that's what I call them.) But they have a kind of weird logic.
The one, of many, that frightened and moved me the most was last year. Worse things have happened since, but this one has lodged in my mind.

It was late last February; the snow was swirling, it was a blizzard. Mum tottered off to the bog, or so I thought. Ten minutes, or so, passed. No sign of mum.I decided to investigate. She was nowhere to be found.
I found her wandering in the back garden feeding the birds. She was worried the birds wouldn't have enough to eat, but had forgotten how to operate the double-glazed doors that have been there for 20 years!!!!
OH dear Jesus Christ Chimney!!!! She could've frozen to death over a few stupid birds.And the snow covered the food she put out in minutes, anyway.
But I could kind of seen where she was coming from. I now feed the birds, and I've now spent many a happy few minutes watching them with mum feeding.
Apart from those bloody magpies... they are such bullies!
That must have been frightening, finding her like that. It's bizarre the things that dementia does to people, because sometimes it seems that dementia sufferers can remember things that are of interest to them, but quickly forget things they find mundane. I'm sure that if I promised to bring a bottle of whisky on my next visit, Dad would remember it, but he's forgotten how to cope with buttons on his clothes.

Re feeding birds, I'm told that if you start doing it, it's best to continue throughout the year, as the birds begin to rely on the food source, especially during the winter months when the ground is frozen and worms are hard to access. Your mother probably knows that too.

It seems that some parts of the brain function just fine, despite other parts dying off. But I wonder if the parts that thrive the longest are the ones which retain the memories of things that people hold most dear to them? Maybe it's because those parts are used more, as people draw on those 'favoured' memories more frequently, so the communication pathways are intact for longer? Image
I think as you age you do start to remember early life things more clearly. My father used to have vivid recollections about his childhood when he was very old.

In a way, I think it's nice. It's a sort of 'completion of life' - in my end is my beginning, and we make a full circle and draw to a close.

My mother was quite open about it. She used to say to me 'I've been dreaming of my grandmother again' (who'd raised her), 'so I know it's getting close to being My Time to Go' and she was right.

Maybe, for those who are 'other-worldly' it's the spirits calling them....I like to think so anyway.
My father inlaw comes out with some funny things
Also, if you think of the brain in simple terms like electrical circuits ....sometimes the pathways become blocked. Or a particular pathway becomes blocked. Sometimes the electrical impulses can find another alternative route. Sometimes they fail to find another route. Yet another time the pathways become clear again.
hence the unpredictability.
Today Dad asked me whether I'd ever met the Pharoah of Egypt! Image He also asked about one of his aunts, who died many years ago. I said I hadn't seen her lately so wasn't sure.

On the plus side, he was in a mellow mood and ate half his dinner (his appetite has been poor for months so anything he eats is a plus these days). He also liked the new watch I took in for him (he'd broken the other one) so this was a pleasant enough visit. Image , which I'm grateful for. I'm grateful for small mercies, as I know that some dementia sufferers can get quite aggressive but luckily Dad has not gone that way, so far (fingers crossed).

When I'm with Dad I paint on a smile and try to use a reassuring tone with him, but inside I'm crumbling, as I'm finding it so hard to watch the changes in him. If I feel this much of a wimp now, God knows how I'll cope when it all gets hard core.
385 posts