My Dad is my hero. ‘A real life superman’. But even superman has his kryptonite, and Dad’s was dementia.
My Dad was diagnosed with dementia at 67. Mum would always say that he was just slowing down since he had retired but I knew something was very different. I know that she did too but was frightened by the alternatives. Mum’s fear meant that no-one was allowed near him, ever. I would call for a doctor or make appointments for them and Mum would tell me to stop worrying or interfering. It wasn’t until he began wandering from the house at night that Mum even acknowledged something could be wrong.
He was assessed as having dementia and a social worker was allocated.
The social worker was lovely and they recommended that Dad needed to move into a care home, where he could be looked after at night. They even suggested that Mum could move in with him as her mobility was not what it was. Mum hated this suggestion and felt that they were ripping apart her marriage, she insisted that he should stay at home with her and of course, this meant my relationship with Mum was becoming a little strained.
We were told that we needed an Independent Advocate because we could not agree and Dad’s voice was becoming lost so the social worker arranged it all for us. The met with Mum and Dad, and then with Dad alone and before long, a plan was in place for Mum and Dad to spend the day at a local care home where they joined in activities and had their meals. When I called Mum on the evening, she told me that she still had a lot of questions but was no longer completely against the idea. Dad’s advocate suggested to Mum that he could have a little respite at the home, to give Mum a couple of days to gather her thoughts. By the end of that weekend Mum had decided that she would support whatever Dad chose and would join him if it was his wish. A month later, they both moved in and have been happy ever since.
Mum could no longer manage Dad’s dementia on her own. But her fear and understanding had crippled her. People can live with dementia for a long time if they get the right support when they need it. We would never have managed without the advocate showing Mum that.
Please support Advocacy Matters to continue to work with people diagnosed with dementia and their families.