My nan got diagnosed with dementia in august 2016 and that was the start of a huge learning curve for me. I had no prior knowledge really of dementia, aside from the fact I understood a huge part of dementia was losing your memory.
Very quickly We realised that nans number one issue was taking her medication properly and when they wanted to put her on a tablet to help slow down the progression of her dementia (Donzapreil). My worry was that she wouldn’t take it properly and since the whole reason she ended up in hospital was because she took an entire weeks’ worth of her dosset box so we could not risk leaving her with her entire weeks’ worth of tablets at once. So, when she came out of hospital and the conclusion was drawn that she didn’t need any carers because her only issue was her medication and this isn’t a care need (their words) the responsibility fell on the family and me and my mum really. My mum won’t mind me saying that a lot of the time I have been the one that has taken on a lot of the responsibility. That was made harder by the fact that both me and mum have chronic illnesses! The juggling act began!
Routine, routine is the first thing I learnt was of great importance to Nan and the minute the routine changes it can throw up a whole heap of problems. You see, Nan got bad prior to her hospital admission because her routine was changed when her cleaner decided she was no longer going to be doing nans cleaning because nan had become too much like hard work. That itself is a whole different blog post.
So, the routine started with one of us visiting nan once a day to leave a day’s worth of medication, check she has eaten and basically just give her some company.
That has been the routine mostly 6 days a week since September and it has been hard. Both me and mum have had things happen, mums got a new job and I went back to university so there has been changes in the routine but we have managed these well with nan. Mostly nan has good days, is happy, just goes about her days… cooks her dinner, listens to her music, just generally lives a happy life.
Then there are some days where the dementia is evident. She struggles with explaining what she is trying to say, she describes everything in colours and shapes when she can’t think of the words and it has taken a lot to begin to understand what she means when she says, “Go get the blue out there” (points to the kitchen). Understanding nan has made life easier for her. But it has also made me realise that dementia goes far further than just memory loss and I was very naive to this prior to having first-hand experience with dementia. I am proud of the way Nan has learnt to cope with things, and she sees the funny side of things when she gets muddled and I think this helps. If she was struggling with things I think I would find this situation a lot harder, and I know that the time will come when she will struggle but for now life is in a good routine, the bad days are less than the good and I take photos and videos with nan basically every day.
The memories I’m making, they are what makes all of this totally worthwhile!.