“MUM’S LOSING IT”
It was my husband who first picked it up.
“Mum’s losing it,” he said to me one day as we were driving home from a visit with his parents, Mavis and Stan.
“She told me the same story twice in an hour. She forgot Declan’s name.”
Though I’ve worked for the past 15 years as a neuropsychologist specialising in the diagnosis of dementia I brushed off his concerns.
“She’s just getting old,” I replied.
Mavis was 80, after all, and led a busy life with lots of friends – it was no surprise that she couldn’t remember who she’d told what. Besides, in the 20 or so years that I’d known her she had always called my husband PeterGregoryCraig, working through her two older sons until she got to him. She was just repeating the pattern with her first grandchild.
“No, it’s more than that,” Craig said, shaking his head. “Something’s not right.”
Fast forward eighteen months, and Craig was proved correct.
The four of us – Craig and I, and our children Declan and Cameron – had relocated to Broome for a year, and when we returned the Mavis that we knew had gone. She still looked much the same, her face still lit up when she saw us, but after the greetings were over she had nothing more to give.
No questions, no conversation. She sat in her chair, blue eyes blank, her gaze straying vacantly to the intricate porcelain dolls she had made all her life arrayed on the mantelpiece while Declan and Cameron chattered away and tried to engage her.
Six months earlier she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
She lasted another year at home before the phone calls began. From the neighbours, alerting us to the fact that Mavis was wandering the street barefoot and in her nightie. From her best friend Valda, laughing at how Mavis had removed her incontinence undies and kicked them under the table when Valda had taken her out to lunch. From the care workers, complaining that there was faeces all over the kitchen and bathroom floor when they arrived to take her shopping.
Though still physically and mentally well himself, Stan was marooned in his armchair, unable to care for her, torpedoed by depression. I Googled “residential care + Melbourne”, and the search began.
|Page 1 of 2||next >>|