British expat with dementia in Spain

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Kafka’s Cat, Jun 2, 2015.

  1. Moonflower

    Moonflower Registered User

    Mar 28, 2012
    Maybe you don't have to tell her. If you can move her to an English speaking care home, you can tell her that this is just until the doctor thinks she is well enough to travel/you've found a nice place in England etc etc.

    It is hard. My mum's psychogeriatrician said to me several years ago "remember this is harder for you than for anyone else. Your mum has gone but you can still see her"

    Horribly true, in my opinion
  2. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    I think that's the approach I would take.

    Do keep us posted.
  3. Raggedrobin

    Raggedrobin Registered User

    Jan 20, 2014
    Yes, do keep us posted.
  4. Kafka’s Cat

    Kafka’s Cat Registered User

    Jun 2, 2015
    Thank you all very much. Some very helpful advice. I think I’m going to have to learn how to communicate with my mum in a more roundabout way. Not exactly lie to her but be very circumspect. I have a further question which I intended to post on a separate thread and maybe still will; I’d like to know the consensus on whether one should tell a person that they have dementia. My mother has not received an official diagnosis yet, but when she has, should I tell her what’s happening to her? She sometimes says “I not not going mad you know” and I always reply, “of course you’re not, love."
  5. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    Re telling or not, a lot may depend on the stage of the disease and the state of the person's short term memory. If they are likely to be very upset, only to forget very quickly anyway, there may be no point. Also, some people never accept that there is anything wrong, even when their dementia is pretty bad, because they can't remember that they can no longer do or manage this or that. In their own minds they are still doing all their own shopping, cooking, cleaning, managing their own finances and washing themselves, etc. - of course they are! - because that is what they always did.

    My mother was told by her GP that she had Alzheimer's, and apparently accepted it (doctor was roughly = to God) but had completely forgotten by the time she got home 15 mins later. If we ever tried to remind her subsequently, she would get cross and indignant and deny that there was anything wrong, so we soon stopped. Her short term memory was by then very bad, and she simply couldn't remember that she couldn't remember anything, if that makes sense.

    But everyone is different and only you will know how your mother might react. Good luck.
  6. RedLou

    RedLou Registered User

    Jul 30, 2014
    KC - I had forgotten but there are indeed some private care homes set up by English people in southern Spain. I looked briefly at them wondering about transferring my dad but I would have cut him off from his friends. I did think they looked quite nice. Worth investigating.
    On the food aspect - your mum sounds quite far down the line to me and may not like any care home food. My father began to take an arbitrary dislike to food as the disease progressed, probably because his sense of taste was altering.
    Again, do bear in mind that her 'desperately' wanting to return to the UK, is likely her, at some level, wanting to return to the past. Should you move her and be met with accusations of doing it against her will, taking her away from her friend/partner etc etc you will feel just as bad as you do now.
    I had the stealing accusations - well, inferences in my father's case. It's very difficult. To be honest - the later stages are easier from that point of view.
  7. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    I never mentioned dementia or Alzheimer's to my mother. If she had had any understanding, I know she would have been devastated by such a diagnosis. She'd seen it first hand with her brother, SIL and a close friend. In fact, when my dad realised what the problem was with Mum, he became suicidally depressed and was in contact with the Samaritans at one point.

    Here on TP we call a kinder version of the truth "love lies" and I would recommend it over brutal honesty every time.
  8. Owly

    Owly Registered User

    Jun 6, 2011
    #28 Owly, Jun 5, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2015
    Just another practical point - the EHIC card runs out every 5 years and needs to be reapplied for. Check this website because there may be rules about moving country specifically to access healthcare or with a definite need for social care.

    It sounds as if you couldn't get POA for 2 reasons, firstly Mum is suspicious of you and is unlikely to want to sign the form; secondly if she is now declared non compos mentis, then it would be invalid anyway as she has to be in her right mind to sign it. The other route, via the Court of Protection, to you becoming her Guardian is long and pricey.

    Can you sell her house in Spain without POA over there? It would seem a good idea to sell it so you can safely recoup your half, then set aside the rest for your Mum's care when the authorities ask for it, as they would also do in the UK.

    I agree that repatriating her sounds a tricky idea for all the reasons mentioned.
  9. Raggedrobin

    Raggedrobin Registered User

    Jan 20, 2014
    Mum's GP felt it wasn't worth telling my Mum she had dementia, she would have been so upset as my Dad had had it. But mainly, I didn't tell her she was and remains in total denial that she has it, which in itself is sometimes part of the illness, the logic starts to go and it is impossible for the person to take on board certain things rationally.

    I did try to suggest that something was wrong at the start and it made her very hostile to me. I think if I was trying to tell my Mum I would rather a doctor did it, my Mum would think I was conspiring against her. It is impossible for her not to sometimes acknowledge on some level that she isn't thinking straight but we seem to have come to a compromise. After a couple of falls, in which she hit her head, if she is struggling with words or something, she puts it down to the 'bang on her head' when she fell and so if she needs to admit, rarely, that she doesn't think things are right in her brain, it is all put down to the bang on the head.

    If you do tell her, and as a rational being I would want to know if I had it, only tell her once, line up your medical evidence, prepare for the possibility she will hate your guts for a while, and then never mention it again, is my thought on it.
  10. Kafka’s Cat

    Kafka’s Cat Registered User

    Jun 2, 2015
    Thanks for the replies; I now have a clearer idea how to deal with the diagnosis question and how much to tell her. I think her condition is too advanced for her to comprehend and I'm pretty sure that, as witzend's anecdote illustrates, she would not accept that there was anything wrong. For quite a while she has been living in a fantasy world where hard facts are meaningless to her and what she wants overrides considerations of practicability. So I will apply the principle of "love lies": thanks for that, Chemmy. She has often said "I'm not senile, you know" and I'd imagine that to contradict her would give birth to all kinds of monsters. Raggedrobin: I also would like to know if I had this illness, but only if I were in the initial stages and could process the information with a measure of rationality. I think my mother is too far gone and it would probably makes things more difficult, both for her and for me. So, thanks everyone for helping me make a decision.

    My tentative investigations have not uncovered many English care homes on the Costa de Sol; I've sent an email to one and am awaiting their reply as to fees and availability. It's quite surprising as I'm sure there must be other people in a similar situation. I'll have to dig deeper. The good thing about the care home she's in is that it's under the aegis of the local health authority who are able to offer assistance with the fees. It would be wonderful if I could find an English-speaking establishment which operates under the same conditions but I'm not entirely hopeful that such a place exists. I've pretty much ruled out a return to the UK, for the reasons stated further up the thread. As for friends, well, she doesn't really have any apart from the two I mentioned; sadly, she drove the rest away. The stealing accusations are terrible. It's absolutely impossible to persuade her that they are unfounded. All the nurses in the care home have been stealing from her even when they're nothing to steal! I now understand this is one of the most common symptoms; if only I'd known before. Actually, if I hadn't been in some state of denial I could have sought help earlier, but we are where we are and can only move forward.

    Thanks for the EHIC card info, although it may be academic now as I've pretty much abandoned my plan to bring her back to the UK. As for selling the house without POA, this is something I need to look into urgently. I can draw on the expertise of a couple of Spanish lawyers who may be able to find a way around this; one of them suggested selling my mother's half of the house to me, which would grant me full ownership and hence the right to sell. However, I don't understand how this would work legally if she is non compos mentis, although it sounds promising.

    If anyone thinking of retiring to a foreign country is reading this, let my situation serve as a warning; please get your affairs in order long before it reaches this sorry stage.
  11. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    Sounds like a plan :)

    Your last comment about getting one's affairs in order applies to anyone, at home or abroad.

    I am truly amazed that so many people don't seem to consider making adequate arrangements for their future care/ needs, even it just means discussing their preferences with someone appropriate in advance.

    My parents, fortunately, made their views very clear which meant I didn't have the same 'guilt monster' sitting on my shoulder over difficult decisions I had to make and I thank them for that.

    We will all leave this life at some stage. But the path we take to get there can sometimes be made easier for us and our relatives if we put a little thought into it and some provisional plans in place.
  12. Kafka’s Cat

    Kafka’s Cat Registered User

    Jun 2, 2015
    Chemmy, you're very fortunate in that your parents had the foresight and courage to confront the inevitable.

    Death is not part of our cultural conditioning nor has it been since the horrors of the Second World War or shortly thereafter. The emphasis is on youth, and the elderly have been sidelined and hidden away. It's still traditional in Spanish society for family to look after the elderly at home and in hospital on a rota system but even this is fading as modernity overwhelms the older structures. Death is no longer a public affair as it was in the Victorian era when families would gather around the bedside of the stricken family member; it's as if it doesn't really exist outwith the funeral rites and rituals. We seem to be a culture in denial.

    However, despite this cultural denial, as a motivating force death is probably buried ineradicably in the human psyche; for confirmation have a look at terror management theory in social psychology and Ernest Becker's book "The Denial of Death" in literature. In Hollywood films death is usually presented as having no consequence; it's something that happens to other people. In European cinema perhaps less; in the bleak film "Amour", for example, death is dealt with as an unavoidable corollary of life.

    It often takes a cold dose of reality to accept that that none of us are going to live forever and that it's our responsibility to ourselves and to others that we arrange our affairs in a manner that allows us to leave this world with some degree of dignity intact. Taxes may be avoidable but death is not a contingency.
  13. DVDKEV

    DVDKEV New member

    Nov 23, 2017
    Kafka's cat what happened in the end, any advice you can offer based on your exerience of the Spanish system? thanks
  14. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    @DVDKEV the op hasn't been to the forum for over 2 years so i suspect you may not get a response.

    You might want to post your own thread.
  15. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    hi @DVDKEV
    as jenniferpa says, this is an old thread
    just in case you are not sure how to start a new one I'll post here some links to websites; they may be useful

    might you add Spain as a location on your profile, then other members will see where you are - we do have members living in Spain, but of course, they may not come to the site very often

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