Labels

Labels…. Clothing labels, designer labels, barcodes in the supermarket, labels are everywhere. We love to attach labels to things…and people. When Mum first went into her care home, we were asked to label every item of clothing. Purely practical, of course but it encapsulated (labelled if you like) what was happening. Mum – diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – might as well have worn a sign round her neck.

When I visit Mum, I still see Mum. She doesn’t always respond the way she used to when I arrived at the family home, the “conversations” don’t always make sense, but she’s still my Mum. For far too many people, dementia is a label, though. We tend to see the dementia first, then the person. We wouldn’t do that of someone living with cancer, so why is it acceptable when the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s or Vascular Dementia or any other of the different types?

One of Mum’s fellow residents, a lady for whom she seems to have little time (well, she does support the Villa) engaged me in conversation yesterday. She wanted to know whether I wanted her to get some booze for me when she went out shopping. I said I’d let her know. She told me it would take about half an hour and I promised to get back to her. She came back in to the room about five minutes later and seemed to have no memory of our discussion. Nor did she have any booze, which was a bit of a disappointment, if I’m honest. I’ve only “known” this lady for a few years and always much as she is now, but I’d hazard a guess that she is used to and likes helping others. If I were to put a label on her, it would be that.

I had a rival in the singing stakes yesterday. A lady arrived, dressed as if she was heading to the town’s trendiest nightspot, to entertain the residents. She walked past us.

“Oh goodness,” Mum’s stage whisper is more of a bellow these days, “she’s got virtually nothing on.”

This was hardly fair. There were a few sparkles and a bit of skin but nothing to scare the vicar. Later, as we worked our way through “Catch a Falling Star”, we were in danger of being overwhelmed by the plaintive cries of someone asking Delilah why she’d done whatever she’d done. Mum and I gamely continued catching our stars, never letting them fade away. I think I compared quite well to my rival. I don’t think a national tour beckons for her or me.

Not that I’d put a label on either of us, obviously.

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