Dementia: What’s Good For The Cat!


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It is always good when you have placed a loved one in a Care Home to hear that they have settled.  During my time at Madhyamaka, I phoned up Alderlea Care Home several times to hear such reassuring words.  However, once I got my first stint of dental treatment out of the way yesterday I decided to ‘pop’  to see my ‘settled wife’.

I telephoned before my early afternoon visit to check that my presence wouldn’t upset the apple cart.  I got the green light along with a request to bring in some additional clothing as she was currently clad in her dressing gown and Pj’s.  What they didn’t add was that her top was back to front and her pants inside out.  She also had socks on and one slipper that didn’t belong to her.

Maureen seemed very settled when I saw her singing Christmas Carols as she stood trying to adjust her attire.  She didn’t seem particularly interested that I had turned up as she sang along to one carol after another.  I eventually joined her on a sofa and held her hand for a while – she told me ‘we didn’t need permission’ for such behaviour.   I only stayed for an hour as I had to return for further dental treatment.

Maureen was far from settled when I returned to Alderlea around 8 pm.  She was very distressed that she would need to ‘sleep on the floor because there were no beds available at her hotel’.  She was very pleased to see me and introduced me to a couple who had been looking after her.  Maureen mistakenly believed they were deaf and dumb.  She continued to make hand signals to them for a while but eventually joined in with the gentleman when he burst into song.

Maureen told me that she was exhausted as she had been walking around all day.  However, when I eventually found her room she couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  At ten ‘o’ clock I was encouraged to go home so that staff could get on with their night time routines.

I have only had a glimpse of what it is like to be ‘settled’ in Alderlea Care Home.   My initial impression is that staff are constantly under pressure to meet the complex needs of their residents.  Last night a resident had fallen and staff had to focus on keeping her comfortable until the paramedic arrived.  They would have missed some of the things that I saw going on and they would have been unaware that Maureen received more than her fair share of vitriol from another resident whose ‘tiredness’ had apparently taken its toll on her presentation.

My Admiral Nurse told me some time ago that ‘she wouldn’t leave her cat with someone she didn’t know’.  Hearing your wife is settled can be reassuring when you are away from home – seeing what that means is another matter.  To use the local lingo you can guess where I will be ‘popping’ or even ‘nipping’ to in the next few days.  I have to check if they are ‘kitten’ me!



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