I’d told Mum I’d take her to the hospital for a routine blood test on Wednesday because she’s a bit wobbly on her feet and is suffering from agoraphobia (she does’t want to go out).
The three kids and I drove down to her flat straight after we’d spent the morning walking around a woodland trail. When we got there however, she came to the door and told me that she had to go back onto the psychiatric ward. Apparently the crisis team had sent a doctor over for another evaluation and the doctor had decided she wasn’t fit to be at home. She really didn’t want to go back, and to be honest I’m not sure what the benefit was to her when she went in two weeks ago, so I called the crisis team to ask.
It turns out that Mum is not taking her medication as prescribed. I know she saves up her sleeping tablets – she skips a day and then takes two. It’s the only way she can sleep at all, and even though she’s done that for years the health team don’t like it. However, they also said that her behaviour was worrying them as she was sitting silently instead of answering the doctors questions. And apparently mid-conversation she was doing things like throwing herself down on the floor.
I have to say, I have never seen my mum throw herself around. She has told me all sorts of stuff that has gone on in her head that is clearly not true, but I’ve never, ever seen her physically act like some mentally disturbed patients do. Maybe she doesn’t do it around me, I don’t know.
Then they dropped the bombshell – the thing that I’ve suspected for a while, but was ignoring because it’s so upsetting to deal with. They said that her memory is really poor and they suspect it might be the early stages of dementia.
I have known for a long time that this would be the route we would go down. Her memory really has been terrible for ages and the doctors have flagged it in the past as an issue. Her physical health is not good, but her mental health has always been so poor. I feel very sad. I’ve read about and heard about what it is like dealing with dementia. There’s a lot of public awareness over the condition here, and the prevalence of dementia in over 65s is around 7%.
It’s going to be really, really tough. I know that if there are things I want to know or ask, I need to make sure I do that before in the years to come she forgets who I am. And that at some point she will no longer be able to live independently and I cannot care for her physically so she will have to go into a home. I will have to watch her deteriorate before my eyes, and worry about whether staff are treating her properly. The end will be slow and difficult and hard to predict.
I think back to when I was young and I remember that although I could always tell my Mum was an older person – her hands were dry and her body wobbled more than mine and my brothers – she was still healthy and living in a way that dries up and disappears as bodies get old.
Mum said many times that she didn’t want to be admitted. I talked to her and persuaded her to pack up some stuff. Then me and the children dropped her back at the psychiatric hospital.
I looked her in the eye and told her to get herself better and get out of there. I hugged her, and left.