September is Dementia Awareness Month, I am sharing my experience with excerpts of my journal that I kept and that was an important tool for my wellbeing throughout this time.
It is my heart felt hope that my small action of sharing will make a big difference and contribute towards building an understanding of some of the challenges families face as this condition brings about change in a person you love.
According to Dementia Australia, Dementia is the umbrella term for a number of neurological conditions, of which the major symptom includes a global decline in brain function.
Here is my journal entry from September 7th, 1995.
Oh boy! What a day this is turning out to be, we have been out driving all over town. Mum mum wanted to see her mother. I offered to take her to the cemetery to visit her grave. No! She said, I…want … to …see… my… mother.
I realised very quickly that if I said she was no longer here that it would agitate her, so I chose to validate her wish. We got in the car, her in the front and the dog and my boys in their seats in the back. I asked her to show me where to go.
We drove up the road with no real direction and ended up in the next town. “Where to now Mum Mum?” I asked. There was no sense of direction, so I continued on with her looking out for her mum and chatting to the boys as we drove past the cows.
I drove a different way home and parked out the front of her home that she no longer lives in. We talked about it for a short while and then she said “but I don’t want to be here, I’ve got to get home to my mother in Houghton, I told her we were in Houghton and she replied “Yes, but this isn’t the real Houghton. She was adamant she had to be some place else.
So, I went home go the nappy bag for my baby and off we went on a longer drive to the Gully, we went to the post office and paid some bills, got some petrol in the car and then came home.
We went inside had a cup of tea and now every thing is Ok.
Mum Mum was born and raised in the township we lived in, so I never thought of it as a figment of her imagination I figured she might be remembering. From experience and reading, I learned that if I made a fuss or disregarded what she was saying, then, it would get difficult. I learned to validate as best I could. The alternative would upset her, she would become disorientated and agitated. So I did what she wanted, as best I could.
Wishing you well