Lots of joy in the last few days with thoughtful support from local people:
- A Heating Engineer who brought warmth back to our house and found time to engage Maureen. He saw I was struggling when she ‘wanted to go home’ and tried to distract her by inviting her to watch him as he serviced the fire.
- An elderly neighbour who popped across to tell me she hadn’t forgotten us but had been confined to quarters with impetigo.
- A local man who wanted to know how we were doing who just happened to mention was expecting further surgery. I was aware that he was already recovering from the removal of a kidney!
- The staff at the local Branch of Lloyds Pharmacy who always give Maureen a warm welcome when she has her blood pressure checked.
- Maureen’s beautiful smile this morning when I tracked her down after she had moved from sleeping beside me to the sofa in the lounge.
As Kate Swaffer says life with dementia is better than expected!
Maureen has obviously heard about the latest research on the benefits of dancing:
Our Sun Room often turns into a dance studio as she moves around to The Sound of Music. The mask is because I just can’t get the hang of pixelating videos. Unfortunately, it means you can’t see her beautiful smile and the sheer joy on her face.
Another excellent communication tip from Teepa Snow:
I always find Teepa’s videos helpful and need to include ‘tell me about it’ in my repertoire!
I’m optimistic that rest will help Maureen and I recover from our ordeal on Wednesday. We were both extremely tired yesterday and Maureen was frequently distressed that our children were at risk. She remembered that she had been to hospital but thought it was to deal with her ongoing problems with her left leg and foot.
I’m leaving Madhyamaka shortly to travel 130 miles to see my Big Fellow and my Dad’s Little Woman. This means that I won’t be at the Ricoh this afternoon to pay tribute to Big Cyrille who sadly passed on Monday. This afternoon I will be paying tribute to two heroes of my own who have supported me throughout my life. They both have dementia.
I intend to make it to Coventry in time to see mum before it is time for lunch in her Cae Home. Then I will move on to spoon feed my brother in his Nursing Home.
Neither my mum or my brother will have any recollection of that proud day for all Coventrians when Big Cyrille lifted the FA Cup. It is also unlikely that they will know who I am when I arrive later this morning. That doesn’t matter as I will never forget who they are and what they mean to me!
When I told Maureen about my forthcoming birthday treat she was delighted. Last week I secretly booked a three-day trip to Thoresby Hall;
where a Rat Pack Tribute:
will be providing entertainment.
Since ‘my confession’, she has been singing along with Dean, Sammy and Frank on YouTube from the early hours.
The beauty of Thoresby Hall is the location: near to both Nottingham and Coventry. Being so close to our birthplaces offers so many possibilities during our mini-break.
Maureen has always needed lots of time to prepare for holidays. It will be interesting to see when she starts developing her lists so we have all we need for our holiday. She has plenty of notice as my birthday is five weeks away. In the meantime, it’s a delight to see her so happy as she sings along to some of our old favourites.
Afternoon tea was taken again yesterday. Scones with strawberry jam and cream were followed by Bakewell Tart. This new routine is part of a cunning plan to entice neighbours into our home. Aunty Clarice has already accepted her invitation.
I’m sure it won’t take long before our invitations are reciprocated and we are popping across the road to have tea with a friendly widow or two. That is when the real fun will start as they are sure to offer homemade produce.
The ‘Cleethorpes Bake Off’ is within our grasp and if Maureen thinks I’m going to be a ‘Lone Baker’ she has another think coming. I wonder how long it will take me to learn how to make her signature ‘Cut and Come Again Cake’. What a delicious way to attempt reminiscence therapy!
The above song fills me with optimism. I heard it for the first time during the Concert For World Peace during my last night at Madhyamaka. It brought tears to my eyes as it reminded me of one of Maureen’s favourites:
The exciting thing is that Maureen is singing along to The Water is Wide as if she has known it all her life. I don’t think she had ever heard the song before I began playing it on YouTube following her return from Alderlea Care Home. There have been several other positive developments following her homecoming: yesterday was astounding as Girl Wednesday put in an excellent shift.
Maureen often plays up when Girl Wednesday is here. Yesterday I feared the worst when Maureen took to the sofa almost GW greeted opened the door. I expected to return home to the sound of GW coughing as Maureen remained asleep. To my amazement, they were laughing as I opened the door and Maureen looked a treat: hair washed and clothing changed. Then it got even better when I heard that Maureen had helped to prepare the vegetables for our lunch. GW is a very experienced carer and said to me quietly before she left: ‘she’ll probably let me have it tomorrow.’ It will be interesting to see if GW can entice Maureen into helping her change and washing our bedding this morning.
I have already had a chat about a little project that Maureen seems interested in helping me with today. She seems excited about renovating the bird tables that her sons have bought for us. Both are in need of repair and I have suggested that she can be the Architect helping to design the necessary renovations while I take on the rebuilding work. This small project opens all sorts of doors for cognitive stimulation and memories about small grandchildren excited about the prospect of feeding their Nana’s blackbird.
It is worth noting that GW and I are doing our best to stimulate someone who woke up this morning feeling it was too cold to walk to school this morning and wondering what the teachers would do if she didn’t attend. Shortly afterward, she went to the bathroom forgot where she had been sleeping and made her way downstairs to lay on the sofa. When I made my way downstairs to encourage her to come back to bed she was convinced she had spent all night downstairs.
No prizes for guessing which silver-haired Country Singer will greet Maureen this morning. I think I will follow up our singing with French Lessons on YouTube again today. We’re making do with YouTube as the Echo Dot is out of stock in Cleethorpes at the moment. Despite my fellow blogger George Rook singing the praises of Alexa, I’m not sure how Maureen would take to another woman in the household!
Maureen has been in great form since she came home from two weeks in Alderlea Care Home. ‘Little Miss Dynamite’ has persuaded her to engage in personal care, change her clothes and take her medication every morning. We are very fortunate that this real diamond will be with us for four mornings a week from now on. Maureen doesn’t remember names these days but was keen to point out that she always enjoyed her time with the ‘tubby lady’: she said that this was a kind way of describing her friend.
The real glitter of LMD is her ability to be flexible in an attempt to meet Maureen’s needs. Usually, they are singing together as I open the door after I have been out for a while. Today, she has responded immediately to my suggestion that Maureen might enjoy doing crosswords again. As I type I can hear fits of laughter from downstairs as she encourages Maureen to solve the clues.
The last few days have been sprinkled with Magic Moments:
My visit to Coventry got off to a lovely start. Seeing mum smiling, singing and tapping her feet when I played her some of her favourite tunes on my phone brought tears of joy to my eyes.
There were different emotions at work when I caught up with my brother in the afternoon. When I saw ‘our kid’ barely able to raise a smile I was glad I was able to hide my tears behind my tinted spectacles. Thankfully, my eldest daughter’s girls helped me to end the evening with joy in my heart.
London is always a culture shock to anyone living in a small seaside resort like Cleethorpes. However, with help from the locals, I made it meet my middle daughter at Kew Gardens. We spent a lovely afternoon together. My introduction to her partner couldn’t have gone better. True to form I had dropped off in the pub when he arrived for our first meeting. Once I stirred it was a pleasure to see how happy they were with each others company.
Even more magic moments came from extending my stay in Coventry. On Sunday my brother was a different person smiling constantly as I sat beside him. It may have been the Santa hat that was perched precariously on his head that changed his demeanour. Perhaps it was hearing the rock and roll that I played him on my phone. On the other hand, it may have been how carefully I fed him his Sunday Lunch.
Mum dropped off to sleep shortly after I called to see her on Sunday afternoon. However, I will never forget the beautiful hug we had together. She stroked my arm as we held each other tightly, something we have rarely done before as we are not a touchy-feely family.
When I called in to see Maureen at Aldelea Care Home yesterday she was laying on a sofa saying she wanted to go home. When I told her that she could she thought she was dreaming. Since we have been back home together there have been magic moments that would fill page after page…………
There is only one number of the week after the lovely day I had yesterday:
I arrived in Coventry just as my mum’s Care Home was open for visitors. I only had an hour at my disposal as lunch had been moved forward to accommodate the evening Christmas Pantomime.
Once I called up YouTube on my phone mum was transformed. She sang an danced the time away – from her chair of course. Mum shuffles around these days: it took two carers to move her from her chair onto her walking frame before she could sit with me in the longe where visitors are welcome.
I’m not sure mum knew who I was but that didn’t matter. She asked me several questions that suggested uncertainty about who this white-haired old fellow was who had come to see her. On occasions, I thought we might be warned about our behaviour as silence seemed to be the order of the day amongst her fellow residents. I began to wonder if laughter and joy were being saved for the evening’s festivities when mum would probably be asleep.
The hour came to an end far too quickly but I’m not sure mum would have had the energy for more of our antics. She almost dropped off a couple of times in between having great fun as she flirted with me fluttering her eyes and making hand signals that had me in stitches as we acted out love songs together. As I was leaving she asked me if I could take her with me to my house. I told her a ‘love lie’ that I was on the bus and reassured her I would be back very soon.
My experience at my brother’s Nursing Home was upsetting. He sat alone in his favourite chair in the Dining Room and hardly responded to my presence. There were a couple of occasions when it is possible that Bill Haley and Elvis had an impact when he straightened up from his hunched position and gave me a smile.
Any visit to see my brother always raises the same questions. I wonder if I’m seeing the progression of Alzheimer’s or the side effects of a medication regime that commenced when he was confined to an Acute Mental Health for six months. This is something I will never know but I have my suspicions that antipsychotic medication may have taken its toll on our kid!
The evening entertainment on offer was a sharp contrast to seeing my mum and brother. My eldest daughter’s children were in great form. They introduced me to Alexa who they accompanied with singing and imaginative dancing. Whenever I visit my eldest daughter I am pleased that we encouraged her train as a chef and she didn’t disappoint last night!
It’s always good to finish the day on a positive note and the girls didn’t disappoint. Seeing Alexa in action reminded me of George Rook’s latest blog where he sings the praises of his new friend.
I’m catching a train to London shortly to meet another one of my daughter’s. This will be the first time I have seen her since she gained a Master’s Degree in Public Health: celebrations are in order!