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.