I’ve lived in this house all my married life – and – oh I know people say it’s too big for me and too much to manage – but it’s my home.
Most of my friends used to live close by, but many of them have either moved away or they’ve died.
Sometimes I wonder what there is left to live for – I think I’ve lived too long. Katherine’s good, but she can’t come that often and anyway she’s got her own family to care for. I don’t like to be a nuisance. I still cook for myself though – go out to the shops when the weather is fine – and do all my cleaning.
It’s the garden. I do miss being able to do the garden. Do you know, when Ken died that was how I survived. He used to do everything and I took it on.
I love it – my son-in-law does all the heavy stuff but I still do the weeding and planting my flowers every year. I love lots of colour. I’m not sure I could manage without a garden.
SCENE 1 “I know it’s a lot to take in…”
The situation came to a head after my Mum had a bout of physical illness, which led to her coming to stay with us. We live three hours’ drive away from Mum’s, so it wasn’t an option for her to stay in her own home and for me to support her there. She had to stay in bed for the first two weeks and was taking strong painkillers so she was a bit out of it.
Her physical illness made her mental confusion worse. I’d noticed some forgetfulness and that she wasn’t really her old self over recent months, but I had put it on the back burner, I wasn’t quite sure what to do.
She kept asking to be taken home - to her own home - as she got better, so after about five weeks we took her home. The next day when I phoned my Mum it was obvious that things were not right and I had to do something which led to my contacting Mum’s GP and social services.
Mrs Harding. I’m afraid the examination does suggest that your mother has early stage dementia. She would benefit from having someone she knows spending more time with her. Is this something that you might be able to do – is there anyone in the family who could offer support?
We live about 3 hours drive away and I’m an only child. I do try to see mum as often as possible but since Dad died she’s insisted on being pretty independent.
I see, well I can certainly arrange for someone to call in, from the mental health team. They would call in on a regular basis, but that would only be once a week.
The problem is that there is a particular vicious cycle which can develop in people with dementia: if they don’t drink enough or they forget to eat then that can make their problems worse. So we will need to keep an eye on how much your mother’s eating and drinking.
It can also help people with early stage dementia to attend day care – they can mix with other people and get some stimulation from the activities and also from the company.
I guess what I am really saying is that I don’t think her needs warrant residential care at this stage. I do think we should refer her to the memory clinic to confirm my diagnosis but for the time being I think she can manage reasonably well at home, as long as someone able is able to oversee her care. If there isn’t someone who is able to do this, then I think we would be looking at finding her some form of sheltered accommodation.
SANDRA (THE SOCIAL WORKER):
Following your mother’s appointment at the memory clinic, she has been referred to me to for a care assessment so I just wanted to talk through with you how this will work.
First of all I’ll be spending some time with your mum and then with both of you. You might want to have someone else there as well? It is a good idea to have the people closet to your mum present. I will also talk to her GP and any carers – if that’s ok – to get as full a picture as possible.
Now there is quite a lot of paperwork we have to do before I can actually do the referral. Some of this relates to how the care might be funded. We’ll look at her assets and savings to see what she can afford, and what funding she might be entitled to. We’ll also have a look at the level of her needs, because that’s what determines the type of care she’s entitled to.
You will get a copy of the report and that information will not be shared with anyone else, unless you have agreed to it being shared. I am also going to send you a list of homes and an explanation of the inspectorate reports on those homes.
What I suggest is that you begin by looking at homes that you think might be suitable. You can either ring up or make an appointment – or you can just turn up, if you don’t want to call them first. I should warn you though it’s probably best not to go at mealtimes: you really want the staff to have time to show you around and be able to answer your questions. Ideally, we’d suggest you take your mum with you – but of course you might prefer to have a first look yourself.
Now I can’t advise you on which home to choose. But you do have a month after admission, for you all to decide whether or not this is the right place for your mum. So if you are unhappy with the choice it’s not final. But I should warn you, once your mom is placed and it’s been decided that this is where she wants to stay, if your circumstances change, it is likely to be really difficult to get her into another home – because she won’t be seen as a priority.
That is unless her condition deteriorates and at that point she might need to be moved to have nursing care or specialist dementia care. So, I know it’s a lot to take in but perhaps we can make an appointment… (FADE OUT)
This podcast or article is part of the Dementia care: Louise's story collection and has been produced to give an account of what dementia care is like for the individual, the family and health and social care professionals.
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