Dementia: Dilemma at 3 am

Maureen woke me at 3 am this morning as she stood at the top of the stairs wondering ‘where everybody was and if she was late for school’.  She accepted my explanation that it wasn’t a school day and we were the only people in the house.  I  thought it unwise to join her in bed as she had gone to bed last night reprimanding me because I was failing in my duties as a member of staff of this Care Home.  In fact she said she ‘wished she could get paid for doing as little as I did each day’.

I could hear her moving around again at 4.30 am and chanced my arm by opening her bedroom door.  She was searching for a cardigan because she was cold.  After hunting round for a while I eventually found the missing item safely stowed in the cupboard beneath the stairs.   As I put out her light she thanked me for my efforts but I have no idea who she thought I was as I left her to go back to sleep.

I have not been back to sleep since the 3 am call this morning as my thinking hat was firmly on.  Following the advice of Paul McKenna I got up and did something boring.  After tidying up the kitchen from my efforts the night before I began to hunt for missing gear.  Maureen is always hiding sharp knives as she fears intruders would use them once they had broken in. We bought three new ones the other day but they are now in a place of safety.  They didn’t surface but I managed to find a chopping knife that has been hidden for a while:  it is now safely hidden in my hidey hole.  I then moved onto the bookcase.

Maureen spends part of most days shifting around books, pamphlets and photos in certain areas of the bookcase.  It took me half an hour to put some of her proudest possessions in a place of safety, put photographs back in their frames, retrieve socks and other clothing items from her stash.  Her mantra following dementia is ‘anything in any place’: so different to the well organised woman who used to be my wife.

I’ve just put in the first load of washing of the day, with a second waiting patiently for the machine to finish its cycle.  Maureen loves to put washing on the line so that is one activity for her this morning as we await the arrival of a Support Worker from the Home Treatment Team at 11 am.  This is the start of a process of the HTT seeing Maureen’s presentation first hand. They will witness her increased level of confusion, fluctuating emotional state and declining functional ability: a very different picture to that gained from conversations with Maureen where she holds her own with a host of confabulations based on her life prior to dementia.

Footnote:  As I’m about to post at 7 am Maureen is moving around in her bedroom again.  She is cold as she is lying on top of the quilt with only a blanket around her.  I help her find additional bedding and she says ‘what kind of people would take bedding off people who are ill’.  She looks bewildered as she pulls bedding around her and shuts her eyes.  I hope that sleep brings her the one thing that seems absent from her waking hours: peace.

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About Remember Me

I am a retired adult educator. My wife had a stroke in February 2014 and now has mixed dementia. Her recovery from stroke has been exceptional apart from 50% loss of peripheral vision and vascular damage. 'Dharma For Dementia' is my approach to being Maureem's Care Partner: it aims to end the suffering of 'Prescribed Disengagement' (Swaffer) .
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8 Responses to Dementia: Dilemma at 3 am

  1. tellthetruth1 says:

    I had enough to scare me when I was husband’s sole carer, but nothing terrified me more than my sharp knives. I have them in a wooden block. These had to be wrapped up and put out of sight. It’s not wrong for you to do the same.

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  2. Remember Me says:

    I think most of them have been put away by Maureen but I don’t know where they are. I have found a couple now and will keep them in a special place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tellthetruth1 says:

      I really hope you find them all. I really do.Can’t help caring about you both. Done this one. Had to use me own head about it. Funny thing, when husband went into care last year, two of the things I found early on when I was clearing up were two knives and a pair of scissors. Gave me the creeps, that did. There’s one knife that has never surfaced, tho’. Dunno what happened to that. Probs got chucked out in the bin, who knows how long ago 😦 It was one of my favorites an’all, for peeling veggies.

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  3. Remember Me says:

    I’ve looked fairly intensively for the knives as i have for my phone charger which has gone AWOL. I don’t see anything sinister in all of this as Maureen has been putting a butter knife that belonged to her Grandma in a safe place for ages. When a new carer came the other day she left her car keys on the sofa and guess who had them?

    Hope all is well with you now I don’t use T P any longer so not up to speed with your news but I would check on a P M if you have time. Please let me know how things are when you have time.

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    • tellthetruth1 says:

      I thought I hadn’t seen you on there for ages. Oh, things have moved on somewhat. Got my claims sorted out. Still being used as a money tree by almost everybody who can get away with it. Trying to get a move coz of my disability, which is slowly making me more and more immobile. Other than that, not much has changed, lol! Thanks for asking.

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  4. Remember Me says:

    Thanks so much for your news. Pleased that things have moved on. Send us a branch of that money tree if you get it growing: we’re going to need it the way things are going here. Take good care and keep in touch.

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  5. Mary Smith says:

    Dad used to ‘tidy’ things away. And he’d get up in the night and sort things in the drawers of his desk. One night I asked what he was looking for and he said, “I’m looking for my hay rake.” It took me a few moments to realise what had happened. Before he went to bed we’d been looking at old photos from his childhood on his father’s small farm. It must all have seemed so real to him he thought he was back then and going to work in the hay field. I learned after that to make sure if we looked at old photos I’d finish by looking at up to date ones to bring him back to today (as far as that was possible).
    One thing which worked really well, though Maureen is probably not yet at that stage, was what we privately called his ‘fidget box’. It was a sturdy, decorated cardboard box about the size of a shoe box into which we had put some old photos (of horses because he loved horses) and various bits and pieces which included a World’s Greatest Grandad trophy, a drinks coaster with a picture of a bird on it – all sorts of things. If he was in the right mood that box kept him happily occupied for hours. If he wasn’t in the mood he refused to look at the contents.
    Sorry – I seem to have rambled on a bit!

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  6. Remember Me says:

    Thanks for sharing Mary I welcome such ‘rambling’: it is so helpful to hear from experts as we try to find our way on this hazardous journey. I have always thought that the real experts on dementia are those who have lived with it in their family.

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