My mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2010. This is a blog about coming to terms with her absent mind.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Goodnight Sweetheart 1930-2013

On Tuesday the 2nd of July, almost five months to the day since she went into a nursing home, Ma passed away. It was a very peaceful passing and I was with her at the time.

As you know I never wanted her to go into a home and felt that I had somehow failed when she did, but in hindsight it was the right decision and one which allowed me to regain the love and affection which had started to dribble away a little when faced with the gruelling challenges of dealing with someone who is in late stage vascular dementia. Right up until the end I could still see flashes of her personality which showed that she was still with us and for someone so tiny her strength and determination was astonishing.

Her funeral took place yesterday, it was a celebration of her life and the force of nature that she was. I thought it would be fitting to close this blog with the eulogy I wrote for her yesterday.

Audrey Mulvihill née James was the youngest child of Edward and Annie James. She was born in Liverpool in 1930 and lived there until her early twenties. The majority of her late childhood spanned the second World War and although she didn’t share many stories about that time she would often relate how much they loved cod liver oil and malt – she claimed it was like toffee. Having been on the receiving end of a spoonful I can promise you that it really isn’t.

Anyone who knew my parents could see that they were completely devoted to each other. They were married in 1952 and spent 58 years enjoying life to the full. Sadly they lost a much wanted baby early in the marriage but went on to adopt Peter in 1956 and me in 1961. Both of us were absolutely adored and cherished and have many happy memories of holidays in Trearddur Bay, Falmouth and beyond.

Mum was the ultimate party animal and loved entertaining – dinner parties, big parties, garden parties; she was never happier than when she was entertaining and planning to overfeed the world - and she loved the opportunity to dress up, put on the sparkles and dance the night away.
Being a product of her time meant that she was lucky in that she didn’t go out to work but she was always, always busy. She was a talented seamstress and made some outstanding things including a lot of her early Ascot outfits and also my beautiful wedding dress, but equally she always seemed to be making complicated curtains for someone, upholstering chairs or decorating cakes, because if she wasn’t sewing she was baking. I clearly remember begging for shop bought cake like ‘everyone else had’ and getting a short shrift on that one!

In later years they embraced the cruising culture and had some wonderful holidays with David and Glenys, visiting some of the most amazing places. Naturally Ma would adopt the waiter/bar staff etc. on each cruise – following a long history of doing this wherever they went on holiday and there are friends who are here today that are a result of this.

She was always astonished when people asked her if she came from Liverpool, convinced that her accent had long disappeared – despite still saying she had a ‘fair coat’ and made ‘furry cakes’. She was a very beautiful woman, looking at her photo you can see why dad utterly adored her.

She loved clothes, shoes, hats, jewellery, babies, Royalty, anyone from Liverpool, Coronation Street, swimming, dancing, her family, going to Ascot, musicals and most especially a nice dry white wine.

I hope the party dad had planned for her when they were finally reunited is still going strong and that they are jiving away just like they always did.

Goodnight Sweetheart x

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

End of an Era

I've been putting off writing this update.

Now that Ma is in a home my carer's role is so diminished that I don't feel I can call myself a carer any longer and the speed with which the situation has changed has left me feeling wrong-footed and adrift. I can't help feeling resentful that I wasn't given any option in the decision-making process. I was told that I would be invited to contribute my views at the meeting but that didn't happen. The whole business was incredibly upsetting and still brings me to tears when I think about it. I need to stress that no one was rude or unpleasant at any time, it was just that the outcomes I had been led to believe would be discussed were summarily dismissed as not being an option.

However Ma seems happy enough in her new home, although the new drug she is still being given is definitely flattening her to the point where she does tend to sleep in the chair for most of the time. Of course this change in behaviour also means that now she does not qualify for CHC funding, so thank goodness my parents paid into the NHS for all those years.

The house is going on the market this week, it simply isn't possible to keep it running. My heart sinks at the thought of all the sorting which will need to be done now - thirty years of memories and my Dad's inability to throw anything out will make for a challenging few weeks. Luckily I have a spare son kicking his heels in Devon so he will be coming up to give me a hand.

So this morning I have the third and final estate agent coming to give me a valuation on the house and then off to see Ma this afternoon.

Don't worry though there will be more updates to come and I am about to resurrect my other blog just in case you can't live without my scintillating writing and rapier wit...

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Enormous change ahoy

Ma has been in hospital for a month now. She is happy and settled, spending most of her time walking up and down the nice wide corridors. When she isn't doing that she might be invading other people's space or she will sit behind the Nurse's station. The cellulitis in her leg continues to respond to the antibiotics and improves day by day.

When I arrived today she was very much in walking mode, so didn't stop long when I gave her a hug. She was very 'dorritydorrity' and clearly had a mission in mind.

Today was the day for the meeting with the consultant and others to discuss the results of her various assessments. Drug-wise she will stay on the smaller dose of Respiridone because it does appear to have lessened both her psychosis and her aggression. But the hope is to reduce and remove in the near future.

She has also been assessed as needing nursing care and this will be funded but she has not been awarded CHC funding. It is unfortunate that I was given the impression that the nursing care could be implemented at home, this is not the case and she will have to go into a home with an EMI unit in order to give her what she needs. To say that I was a bit blindsided by this is an understatement. However, CHC funding is not the golden ticket it appears to be in that should she be awarded it then settle well in the home, and thereby her aggression etc. is reduced, when she is re-assessed 6 weeks later the funding would be withdrawn. So you would be in the situation where thinking all was settled suddenly becomes oops... sorry.. you need to find £1800 a month. So in a way this is better. At least I know what we have to deal with.

Lots of issues around this. I've always wanted to keep her at home, so now I feel as though I'm letting her down (I know, I know); I'm very worried about how to keep the house going when such a massive amount of money is about to leave the bank account every month; I'm not exactly prime employment material these days so finding someone who will employ a disabled 52 year old in the current climate is likely to be akin to the proverbial needle in a haystack etc.

But on the positive side, this is absolutely what Ma needs. Plus she is able to go to the home that I saw a few months ago and liked enormously and that really does make the whole thing so much easier to deal with.