One of my reasons for blogging is that through sharing my experiences I might get a better understanding of Maureen’s presentation. In my blog yesterday I tentatively suggested that Maureen had been ‘hallucinating’ about wild animals and her mother being unwell. That led to Susan Macaulay commenting and sharing her video that we need to look at memories in an entirely different way:
I find Susan’s ball of yarn model very helpful: memories are far from linear when you have dementia. It might well be risky to use words like hallucinations as I’m sure there is a tablet for it. Why on earth would we want to give anyone with dementia medication that destroys even more of their memory?
Some really good news: we had a new carer yesterday and she was excellent. I will contact our Agency tomorrow and thank them for sending yet another great carer. Now I’ve seen her in action I will make it to the Leisure Centre this morning. I need to get down to some serious training as I’m now pushing 14 stone. It must be contented living that has led to me putting on three stone since I ran off to live with Maureen!
As it’s my birthday today I decided to stick with one of our rituals by giving Maureen one of my favourite cards to regive to me:
Maureen has been in great voice this morning, singing this one:
It was lovely to see the joy on her face as she remembered the words of the Carpenters songs when I called their music up on YouTube. Music is so important in our lives. How reassuring it must be to be able to sing along to your old favourites; being able to remember the words when you feel that your memory about most things is so poor.
I have a surprise in store for Maureen this afternoon. A carer who is on maternity leave is calling around with her little one. It will be interesting to see how Maureen reacts to seeing someone who was here almost daily for a couple of years. My guess is she will have that baby in her arms within minutes of her being in the house!
The Carpenters were a welcome relief from a familiar song. If I followed Maureen’s theme of an hour ago it would be with the Beach Boys ‘I Want To Go Home’: she doesn’t sing that one she howls it in floods of tears. I’ve tried to shift her thinking by singing ‘I Like A Nice Cup of Tea In The Morning’ and delivering her morning tipple. If things go well this afternoon I might add ‘Baby Come Back’ to my repertoire!
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.
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!
I have found it difficult to know how to play Christmas this year. Now Maureen’s dementia has progressed to severe I’m often caught on the hop. She clearly has little concept of time or place and often who people are. Thankfully, she generally sees me as one of the good guys in her life: often her dad or her grandfather – sometimes ‘Paul’. Although the latter is not always easy to fathom, as ‘Paul’ can be the man who runs this Care Home or her husband.
For the first time in ages, we have shared the same bed for the last seven nights. This has meant that it has been much easier to settle Maureen if she has woken up distressed. Generally, a small amount of physical contact and a few words of comfort have been enough to help her get back to sleep. Unfortunately, this morning has been rather different.
Maureen woke in the early hours telling me she was parched. The usual routine of a beaker of water became an elongated period of confusion. Her questions were bewildering as she tried to determine her reality. She even wondered if how she would know if she was drinking poison! It took a long while to reassure her and persuade her to return to bed. A couple of hours later Maureen was asking me: ‘what is this Santa thing?’ I couldn’t think of an appropriate answer and left her to her own devices for a while.
A short while afterward, I found Maureen downstairs in the dark. She seemed relieved to see me, greeting me with: ”there you are I have been looking for you.’ Then she asked me: ‘if the boys had got what they wanted for Christmas?’ When I told her I was unsure as they lived away she said: ‘they come and see us sometimes though.’
Maureen is currently asleep in the single bed in our lounge; ‘my den’. Deprived of my resting place I have been doing some domestic duties so that we can have a relaxing day together. What I’m still not sure about is how to deal with ‘this Santa thing’: should I give her the presents he has left in the spare bedroom or will that only add to her confusion?
Just as I am about to post this piece Maureen has come upstairs to see what I’m doing. She has just said: ‘I wanted to get you a present’ – I have responded with what I have always said: ‘you’re presence is my present’.
Maureen and I strutted our stuff on the ‘dance floor’ at Alderlea Care Home yesterday. How could I refuse a ladies invitation dance when my wife had said ‘can we do this one?’ I may be wrong but I think she even allowed me to lead as we moved around the floor. Our dance was another indication of how settled Maureen has become at Alderlea.
I’m going to Coventry for more dancing this morning. I need some further tuition from my mum. She used to wait up for me on my return from Victor Sylvester’s all those years ago. Clad in her dressing gown she would help me to remember my steps. Even if she is sleepy on my arrival at her Care Home I know I can get her feet tapping to Nat King Cole or Frank Sintra if I pick the right moment
I also think I can get the master of the jive, that big brother of mine, to reminisce about his days when they would be queuing up to partner him at the Locarno. Elvis or Bill Haley will hopefully bring a smile to his face as he sits in his favourite spot in his Nursing Home.
I have yet to see a situation where music fails to transform those with dementia. The Entertainments Organiser at Alderlea worked wonders yesterday. She danced with those who needed a walking frame, held hands with those who were unable to stand and gave her wonderful smile to those who couldn’t speak. Little wonder that Maureen has settled in a place where the staff always do their best for the residents.
Maureen caught me at it early this morning – whistling this number in the kitchen:
When she found me clearing up the debris from last night’s meal she was holding two blankets. She had spent the night on the safety of the sofa: a place where men would find it difficult to get at her. As soon as she saw me she gave me a beautiful smile so I hugged her and burst into the above song.
I then told her I was going to remind her of the first cassette tape she had ever bought for me:
As soon as the opening lines appeared on out TV screen Maureen said: ‘I remember that one’. Music continues to be such an important part of our life and Girl Monday/Tuesday and Friday often resorts to YouTube. When I return from my time off I hear them at it, with singing and laughter ringing out as soon as I open our front door.
The first meeting with Maureen’s Care Coordinator went really well yesterday. When I mentioned the need for clarification over Maureen’s diagnosis she agreed that it was a matter that needed clarifying – ‘there was nothing to lose’ by revisiting this issue. It has always concerned me that Alzheimer’s was diagnosed in the early days but that has now been revised to vascular dementia.
The really good news from yesterday was there is now a Crisis Contingency Plan in place with numbers to ring whenever the going gets tough: far more than words!
When I was looking for some new clothes for Maureen last week I stumbled on this little beauty in Iceland -The Food Warehouse. It is amazing value for £29.99 and an excellent reminder of the good old days.
I used it several times when Maureen was in the Konar Suite to play some of her old favourites and we even had the occasional smooch in her room. We have decided to take it with us the next time we visit my mum so she can tap her feet to Frank Sinatra, Glen Miller and Nat King Cole.
I’m hoping that another purchase a 2-in-1 Calendar and Day Clock will help Maureen’s difficulties with the orientation to time. I haven’t taken it out of its box yet as I realise that such changes have to be managed gradually if they are to have a positive impact.
I also found a beautiful jacket in Maureen’s favourite colour last week. She is really looking forward to wearing it for the first time today.
I’m hoping she has now caught up on her sleep as she spent most of the last 24 hours on the sofa. However, when you consider what she has been through in the last few weeks she is doing remarkably well.
Update at 9.30am: Maureen’s new jacket fits like a glove and she is delighted to have something new to wear. She has now retired to the sofa exhausted by my attempts to help her into warmer clothes before we ventured out. When Girl Thursday arrives I’ll take the opportunity to return some further purchases that she is not keen on. Hopefully, she will model her new jacket a little later in the day
This is one of our favourites from Emmylou:
We had a lovely day yesterday. Maureen was so pleased to see her GP after three weeks with ‘Witch Doctors and magic spells’ on the Konar Suite.
She amazed me in the evening when we popped in to see our old friends at Carpet Bowls. We hadn’t been for years but she blended in as if it had been the previous week. Our old friends were really pleased to see us again and people we didn’t know treated her with real compassion. Then to top it all we have spent a restful night together in the marital bed.
After another appointment with a ‘Real Doctor’ this morning we could pop in to see our dancing friends. To be Together Again on the dance floor after all this time would really be something!