When a loved one succumbs to dementia, you know there are certain moments which are inevitable. The moment she or he can’t lived at home any longer; the moment when any meaningful conversation ceases; the moment she or he doesn’t recognise you; the moment when engagement, any engagement, is merely fleeting.
We’ve reached and passed all those moments with Mum and this week, it feels like we’ve turned another corner. Mum isn’t well at the moment – and I’m not talking about dementia here. Her appetite, so healthy until the last few weeks, seems to have disappeared. In an hour and a half this morning, she ate one small square of toast. She will still drink her coffee but as the day unfolds, persuading her to drink anything becomes a challenge too.
Up to about a month ago, I could always raise a smile from her when I arrived. Today, she looked up briefly and looked down again straight away. I stayed with her for more than an hour and there were some shared moments, mostly musical. When Doris Day whose Que Sera Sera seems increasingly appropriate, sang the question:
“Will we have rainbows day after day?”
Mum, head down, eyes closed, piped up:
“I hope not.”
She’s tired, and I don’t mean sleepy though she spends a lot of time asleep these days. No, Mum seems tired of this whole dementia thing. I think she’s had enough. I hate thinking that, I hate writing it but I’m sure it’s true. Mum has been living with a dementia diagnosis for seven years and she was probably dealing with the onset for at least a couple of years before that.
So, she’s had enough. I said as much to Mum’s GP when he called to see her. His empathy suggested he agrees though she remains, appetite-apart, in pretty robust health. Should that change, there might be another moment soon – the moment when it’s suggested that she goes into hospital but we’ve pre-empted that. Mum will stay in the care home, with familiar smiling faces and her second family, the staff who love her and who’ve cared for her so well to this point.
There might not be too many ‘moments’ left but Mum’s well being has never been more important.