1. CaptainQuark

    CaptainQuark Registered User

    Feb 12, 2015
    3
    UK/Australia
    Greetings all,

    This is my first post on this forum and it's difficult to know where to start.

    My very first memory of Alzheimer's is of my paternal great-grandmother, Maud, whom I have vague memories of visiting as a child in Bradford. My Father would take me to visit her occasionally. The defining moment of those visits was the time she asked my Father, "Are you courting yet, Lewis?"

    Many years later, now living in the country that has now become Zimbabwe, whilst visiting the UK, my paternal grandfather died. He had been living in a care home, but one day, he simply disappeared. His body was discovered in the grounds of the home a week later. He had obviously been either unable or unwilling to find his way back, had obviously become hungry, and had choked to death trying to eat grass.

    Dementia plagued my Mother's side of the family too. My maternal great aunt was away with the fairies for the last few years of her life, although as I wasn't living in the UK at the time, I only saw her in her declining years on a couple of occasions. My maternal grandmother too had dementia, although only in the last couple of years of her life.

    Five years ago, my Father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. By this time, I was living in the UK again, but my parents had moved to Australia, and we hadn't seen each other for 10 years. My Mother phoned me and told me of the diagnosis and suggested I come out and see him while he still remembered who I was.

    This situation has now begun to define my life. For the past five years I have been spending 6 months of the year here in the UK, living my own life, and 6 months in Australia helping my Mother to care for my Father.

    When I went there the first time, my Father seemed OK - very forgetful, yes, but not too bad. On the way home from the airport, he asked me three times in the space of 5 minutes which airline I had flown with. He was still independent and able to do most things, but always needed to have a note with him to remind him where he was going and why.

    Things deteriorated gradually over the next few years, but by February 2014, at which time I had to leave Australia and return to the UK, was starting to get very bad.

    On my return in August 2014, the deterioration was remarkable. Not only did he have absolutely no short-term memory, but his personality had changed and he was sundowning in the worst possible way - real Jekyll and Hude stuff.

    During daylight hours, he was obsessed with checking the mailbox to see if there was any post. He would go and check it up to 20 times a day - even going so far as to come in the front door from just having checked it, say "Have I checked the mailbox today?" and going back to check it again. And then there was the junk mail... The village hall always had a selection of local free newspapers and supermarket promotions, and he would 'helpfully' bring home a selection for my Mother several times per day. Having been caught out yet again, he didn't want to be seen taking them back to the hall, so would chuck them in the recycling bin. It was always full to the brim!

    But nighttimes were the worst. He would be obsessed with locking doors and windows, hermetically sealing the house, no matter how hot and humid. Even when he had achieved this, he would ask every two minutes whether or not he had locked everything, or jump up, unlock everything to check that it had been locked, and then lock it all up again. If we tried to prevent him, he would become very aggressive, even on a couple of occasions, becoming very violent about it. This carried on even after he had gone to bed, and he would get up 10 and more times a night to check them.

    The last time I went over to Australia in August 2014, I went with the express intention of putting him in a care home. And not a moment too soon! My Mother's health was at rock bottom by the time I got there, having worn herself out trying to care for him on her own.

    Sadly, there comes a time when love is not enough, and professional care is needed. We had reached that point. Of course it is traumatic to have to uproot a family member from his or her own home, and the guilt involved can be a crushing burden, but my Mother could no longer cope. Anyway, she deserves a taste of life too!

    So what was originally intended to be a two-week respite stay in a care home has now become permanent.
     
  2. sue38

    sue38 Registered User

    Mar 6, 2007
    10,856
    Wigan, Lancs
    Hello Captain Quark and welcome to Talking Point :)

    You are absolutely right. How is your dad settling in the home?
     
  3. CollegeGirl

    CollegeGirl Registered User

    Jan 19, 2011
    9,534
    North East England
    Hello and a warm welcome from me too. I hope your dad is settling and that your mum is recovering from her caring role and getting a little of her own life back. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
     
  4. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    16,107
    Toronto, Canada
    Hello Captain Quark and welcome from me also. It really does become too much for most of us, unfortunately.

    Do your mother have support? Is there an Alzheimer's Society she can contact? It must be so difficult for her to readjust.
     

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