Dementia: Learning From An Old Hand

I have always seen Maureen’s Aunty Clarice as an excellent reference point in the steep learning curve that I have needed to traverse in becoming a Care Partner.  She is a veteran in the field, as her late husband had Alzheimer’s for approaching 20 years. Her other asset is that she has known, and been close to, Maureen for a very long time.

Clarice was clearly taken aback by Maureen’s demeanour yesterday.  I think she perhaps saw breakfast/lunch in bed after noon as decadence.  When she joined us in the bedroom she was taken aback by Maureen continually asking her the same questions.  Then she was disappointed Maureen’s reluctance to join us downstairs.

It didn’t surprise me that Clarice was shocked by Maureen’s presentation.  Only those who see her day after day have any idea of the marked decline in her condition.  Tiredness seems to be a regular feature of her presentation, and that poses a dilemma for me as a Care Partner.

There is a commonly held view to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’.  That has been my approach in the last few days: to let Maureen recover from her marathon on Sunday.  The risk factor in that strategy is that whilst rest may well be needed; functional capacity may well be lost.  Unless Maureen keeps up her daily routines she will forget how to carry them out. This may well leave her with limited capacity to do anything other than clean the work surfaces or put away the pots and pans.

Even in her grief Clarice continues to provide excellent support and advice as I try to support Maureen.  I have learned so much by watching her in action and chatting over her journey since Alzheimer’s entered her household. She still feels guilty about Dennis ending his life in a Care Home.  I hope my words of comfort helped this extremely generous woman as much as she continues to support us both.


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