Decided that sometimes knowledge of something can make you know too much.
I am sure this sounds like I have possibly lost the plot but I have worked in care for 30 years. Supporting people to develop skills, keep skills and to be cared for through the end of life process.
Some people would think knowing information or knowing what’s to come is a good thing. However, not always as at the moment it isn’t. Knowing the progression within Dementia and knowing the end of life process means, I know what my dad is possibly going to go through. As a trainer in social care I stand each month and teach about dementia awareness which has an impact on me as I am actually talking about what might happen to my dad, over and over (I love my job but it can be hard when going through something).
Knowledge and experience
As my dad progresses through the dementia journey I struggle to get those images out of my head of people I have met, cared for through this incredibly harsh disease. I see the people screaming as they are being cared for and shouting for mum because they have forgot the reality they are in. I see the progress of having to assist the person to eat with a puréed diet because there swallow has been effected. I also see the families broken and frightened of who they now, don’t really know. I see the daughter visiting their mother but she no longer remembers being a mother. I have also been lucky enough to be with people at their end of life and know what it can be like sometimes I wish I did know as I am sure others wish they didn’t know.
My reality at the moment is wishing I didn’t know wishing I was being told by a professional at each stage rather already knowing quite a lot all at once so I know the possible end journey.
Just a family member
We forget that people who work in care or in the caring profession whether a doctor, nurse or care worker that they will have loved ones who may be suffering from a condition. But just because they have the knowledge they are not a doctor, nurse or carer when we are talking about a family member they are just a daughter, son, husband, mother etc. They too will be on the journey and even though they can’t forget what they have learnt or seen they will wish they could for a day so they can be just like everyone else and be the daughter, son etc.
Dementia is a journey for all. Just remember to enjoy the good days and role with the punches on the not so good days. Do what you can and just love each other.
Take care all.
Mish Mash of information and most likely not in chronological order. Please bare with me while I try to remember the sequence of events that came once we had diagnosis.
Bloody this diary malarkey (great word) is rather hard I can now see why I never had one, you really have to keep up with it or you end up like me wanting to tell you the journey but getting lost in the events. I have deleted this post a few times.
Recap: doctors visit with mum, first lot of tests completed, referred to ‘Memory team’ (quite apt) went to memory team and had more tests and the wait for the diagnosis commenced.
During this year waiting I was planning my wedding, dad was ill so many times, major infections, mini strokes, terribly bout of D&V which meant he collapsed in a hotel room only with mum to raise the alarm. Each time he had a hospital stay we would explain that he was waiting for a diagnosis. He had some stays in hospital that caused massive distress and upset to all (sometimes due to poor care). He would beg to go home, he would blame mum it was very distressing. There were calls that he may not recover and he just rallied round. We did not know if he would be able to walk me down the aisle (well walk is not the ideal term as dad is in a wheelchair). Levels of confusion fluctuated as the infections had an impact but as always, family and mainly mum just carried on and got on with what had to be done. Just before the wedding Grumpy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the memory team nurse came out and gave them both the news and commenced Grumpy on medication (not a cure). Grumpy made it to the wedding and managed to stay for a little but he was not well.
On the journey home mum said she was so scared has he kept on slumping and all she wanted to do was get him home. He had many more stays in hospital (in and out every few weeks) and it was exhausting for mum. I have to say I am in awe of my mother she is incredible.
Dad was assessed for 3 months by the memory team who came out with the medication each month after the first month they changed the medication and on the third month stopped all medication. They felt the medication side effects outweighed the benefits. By this time dad had really taken to his bed he had stopped really watching TV. He used to love all sport and watch films with mum but he no longer watched (there will be logs of moments of watching TV). He had become obsessed with hankies and a towel that he needed with him at all times, he slept a lot and if he got up he would never stay up long.
After a particular visit to hospital after a major bleed the decision mum came to was to ask for some help from carers just in the morning. We had to make our voices heard each time he stayed in we had compiled a medication list we had written ‘this is me’ we had explained fully all about grumpy and at times some wards were not good in fact there was only one stay which was when he had the bleed that we felt all his need were cared for and mum could have a break.
Its a bit late that I am writing this after 4 days away training. The journey has a long way to go but we know it’s going to have sadness and loss at the end. We have a group that helps and that group that my mum set up is called Grumpy’s groupies which is not for people of a sensitive nature. It is all women who love grumpy and who have a warped sense of humour but it keeps ups going.
So I will continue and tell you some of our joys that we have had and triumphs but also some difficulties and issues along the way that should not have happened.
Oh an a snippet from Grumpy’s Groupies as you can see it’s really helpful stuff but it keeps us smiling even when things are overbearingly awful.
Lets look back:
2017 Journey begins and diagnosis……….Mum had seen a number of changes within grumpy which made her concerned regarding his memory. The issue we have is that grumpy has multiple conditions and as many people know some can mirror Dementia Symptoms and also the medication he takes could have had an impact. However, mum had to make an appointment for dad at his local GP to talk about some of his conditions and at that appointment she raised her concern. She wasn’t sure she would raise it as she was worried about Grumpy’s reaction. However, Grumpy also said he had noticed things that he was worried about.
The doctor on this visit was one of the ‘good ones’ (sadly the surgery isn’t that good). So there and then the GP commenced the initial testing. Which went similar to this:
- name and address was given to him at the start.
- asked him to count backwards from 20
- asked him to say the months of the years backwards
- showed him a selection of pictures and one of the was a crown and he asked which picture related to the royal family.
- He then asked him to tell him the name and the address that he had given to him at the start.
On speaking to mum after she said for some he did well, he did remember some of the address and name, he was able to get half way counting and for the months. However, he struggled with the picture question and could not explain the crown being part of the royal family.
The doctor then said he has some markers that could mean he needs further testing and that he would refer to the ‘Memory team’ (what it says on the tin I suppose). He also asked for medication review, and full round of bloods to rule out any other condition that could mimic Dementia.
Grumpy went along to the memory team with mum and sister Joanna which is really important to have as many people as you can that knows them. As we also see different changes which helps the professionals to see the bigger picture. He was also sent for a CT scan.
During the months that followed dad fell unwell, had a number of TIA (mini strokes), post stroke seizures, bouts of infections which meant lots of trips to the hospital (not always a positive experience). Not having a definite diagnosis was hard as the hospital did not meet his needs at the time and a lot of this was down to not having it in black and white. I felt they dismissed us which added even more pressure.
I am going to continue to write about Dad’s journey. This is just the beginning 2017 was a hard year. I am aware it is not over and that 2018……….onwards is going to have more hard times.
A few things to note:
- keep notes if you notice changes
- during the investigations do not forget to breathe
- once diagnosis comes do not think life is over there and then
- know that dementia is a terminal illness and this can be something we need to support people understanding
- a diagnosis does not mean someone does not have capacity understand so remember how they feel about the diagnosis
- depression is a common reaction
- compassion and empathy will help you to support someone.
- plan for the future
- before diagnosis consider Lasting Power of attorney for health and wellbeing (only comes in to action when the person loses capacity).
Will be back with more experiences and progression within Grumpy’s journey.
By the way ‘Grumpy’ is a term of endearment that all his grandchildren use (because he is grumpy but it a loving way).
Important part of being a trainer is to keep your self up to date, refreshed and competent in what you train so at the moment I am doing a free course within Dementia. Its not advanced training its getting back to the basics and updating on my understanding. As part of the course there I have just watch a video from Terry Pratchett. He was talking about the difference in getting a diagnosis of cancer compared to dementia (both horrid). He made a point that people when diagnosis with cancer with be given hope or feel there is still hope but for someone diagnoses with Dementia there is no hope of recovery (at this point in time) and therefore he felt he was very alone with his diagnosis as everyone knows hope isn’t something that comes into it.
However, he still wrote best sellers and was focused on living well with Dementia.
I am enjoying the course it is simple and when I finish I will gain a certificate and I am already feeling I am being reminded of things to consider but also how important it is to not have one size fits all approach. Its something I teach a little of but I am now going to ensure it plays a bigger part in my training.
The course I am doing is from the university of Tasmania I have shared previously on my FB page. This is not a recommendation as for some it will not fit their learning style but hey check it out. Free learning is important and CPD can only support you with what ever you do in life. You don’t even have to be working in care, or medical field to do this course. Knowing about Dementia is important for all.
Check the links out you may find them helpful
So you all know about my Dad AKA Grumpy, well he continues to go through the journey that is Alzheimer’s and the progress within this cruel and unforgiving disease (yes a disease not a normal part of ageing). So as a family we are now realising the importance of making memories and today was one of the days that my niece managed to make one and video the evidence for us. She captured her daughter and us all a memory that previously his grandchildren have and now great grandchildren may still have time to make. So it was great to see a video of Dad with his great granddaughter stood on his wheelchair has he drives it into the house. He actually looked like he used to be and do you know what it made me think we need to grab those memories and just store them to share with those that come after us or are to young to remember. So log it and keep it, enjoy looking back, value who your person is and don’t just see the condition. Remember they are who they were just a little buried under all the chaos that is Alzheimer’s. Its a short blog today but honestly it is so important to remember and save those moments and love them. Just take a moment and sit back and remember the person in front of you. SEE THEM!