Wish I’d Known You

One of the first lessons I learned when I started to get to know a little about dementia was the importance, no the absolute necessity, of seeing the person and not the dementia. I was moved that when Mum was preparing to move into her care come, the staff wanted to know about her life to that point, rather than just her current situation.

I’ve got to “know” one or two of the people Mum now lives with over the course of the last four years. There’s J who once invited me out on a date and M who loves to sing, though not often the same song as others in the room are attempting. And then there was another M, a real character, a lady with spirit. Once as I was leaving, I kissed Mum and M demanded to know where her kiss was. Often she was asleep when I visited but when she was awake, there was always a smile and a greeting. I sometimes wondered about M’s story. She wasn’t local – how had she ended up in Worcestershire? How had she spent her life to that point of her moving in to the care home?

I’ll never know. M died in October and I miss seeing her when I visit Mum. I wish I’d known her before dementia took hold of her life. Everyone has a life story – where dementia has reared its head, it’s more important than ever to remember that.

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8 Responses to Wish I’d Known You

  1. annemacleod100 says:

    Reblogged this on annemacleod100 and commented:
    Nice blog to start my week, thank you.

  2. Alyson says:

    Your comments are so true. I have been visiting and old friend who was 94 who was ill in hospital until his death on New Year’s Eve. He was very frail and did not have dementia but unable to express the man he was. I spoke to the ward sister about his treatment and was able to share with her some of his life. He suddenly became a person to her and she was glad to have a little knowledge. She was quite open about the need to know the person not just the illness but, sadly these days of hospital targets and paperwork the person is lost.

    • You’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head Alyson. People, and not only dementia patients, are often lost in a system which often seems to care more about balance sheets and targets than anything else. It isn’t the staff, it’s the system which sometimes fails.

  3. Anna connolly says:

    Duncan I have mentioned this to the Alzheimer’s group that it can sometimes help the sufferer to have a cuddly toy. They agreed but I don’t think many carers are aware of this. One Easter I bought Mum a small egg (trying to avoid too much chocolate) held by a large cuddly Easter Bunny. Mum loved it and it slept with her for some years. I lost Mum this year (she had been living with me for more than 8 years) and the Bunny accompanied her on her last trip in this world.
    Best wishes. Anna

  4. dementedgirl says:

    I feel just this way about MIL. I have never known the real “her” – only dementia’s shadow…

  5. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m lucky because I knew and remember the real Mum but it’s still hard visiting “dementia’s shadow”.

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