Don’t judge

Amid the many reflections on dementia across the BBC this week, one contribution has probably prompted a greater response than the rest. Sir Ian Botham was interviewed about his father Les who lived with dementia until his death in 2005. Sir Ian’s story didn’t contain much he hadn’t already shared. The “headline” was that he chose not to visit his father after he’d moved to a care home:

“There was no point in going….I didn’t want to see my Dad like that….I’ve got so many great memories of my father, I’m not going anymore….I refused to go.”

Sir Ian also spoke of his belief that his father would have been horrified to see himself as he was. That rang true. Both my sister and I have said the same thing about Mum.

At a Dementia Friends session in Coventry yesterday, I asked if anyone had seen the interview. Most of our small group had and opinion was mixed. It’s easy to condemn – how could a son opt out of visiting his father? One of our group runs a care home and recounted similar experiences with relatives preferring not to visit. I can absolutely understand that feeling. There have been times when I’ve been to see Mum with a heavy heart, feeling guilty about not feeling full of the proverbial joys at the prospect. It’s one of dementia’s cruellest ironies – we visit, we try to spend “quality time”, we seek a connection often elusive, and still we feel guilty.

I’ll continue to visit Mum as long as she’s with us, whether or not she knows who I am. She’s failed to recognise me only once so far and I felt as if my legs had been cut from under me. I’m prepared for that feeling again – it will happen, one day. All I can hope is that it isn’t too soon.

But I respect Sir Ian Botham’s decision. It’s personal and as the greatest cricketer I ever saw play says:

“Please don’t judge unless you’ve been there.”


About duncancajones

I am a coach and mentor, a charity trustee and a journalist. Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog.
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3 Responses to Don’t judge

  1. Patrick Fisher says:

    Although i did not see the interview, i can totally understand him not wanting to see the decline of his Father. I for one could not let my Dad end his days alone even when he was in care. I got to know my Dad better throughout his Dementia and became very close to him as his carer. It made me feel warm inside to see his face light up each time he saw me, even though he had no idea who i was. That connection obviously meant a lot to him and i was not going to take that away. He was always there for me so i returned that love to him right until he passed.

    We all deal with this disease in different ways and no way is right or wrong. It is what you can humanly cope with that matters. They would not want to see us suffer whilst watching them suffer.

    • How true Patrick. It’s easy to judge but we shouldn’t. Just as everyone with dementia is different, so everyone’s carer story is different too. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. dementedgirl says:

    Hmmmmmmm, I won’t judge as I myself am “taking a break” from MIL at the moment – but I don’t think, if it were my own mum or dad, that I could ever do that, hard as it might be.

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