Dementia: Time Travelling On An Endless Hours Contract

I have always found the Time Machine by H G Wells a fascinating film but I never thought I would ever have such an experience.  Teepa Snow and others have highlighted how easily those with dementia move effortlessly back and forth in their life experiences.  In the last few weeks Maureen has clearly struggled to work out which Paul I am and that is quite understandable.

She talked to me the other day about the ‘cheeky monkey’ who used to borrow her car because his wife had his.  I’m expecting her to mention that he also used to dump his young children next to her desk while he popped upstairs to get some photocopying done.  Little wonder that she is often puzzled who I am: I’ve moved from being a work colleague to being her husband with a lot going on in between.  One of our neighbours was dumfounded on Saturday when Maureen told her she was ‘going to call the police because she was being kept prisoner here by a man who claimed to be her husband’.

It is also no surprise that Maureen doesn’t believe that she lives in Cleethorpes.  She can remember going back home to Nottingham when she was a child.  A move that caused upset between her parents and separation from the extended family that she loved.

Time travelling is not restricted to Maureen:  I have now moved back into familiar territory of working split shifts.  As a community education worker I worked a mixed pattern of mornings, afternoons and evenings.  No two weeks or days were the same and I often slept on a morning or afternoon off.  The only difference now is that as a Care Partner there is not an employer or a trade union to help me address this endless hours contract and secure the support we need.

I took a chance last night and got away with it.  I went to bed exhausted at 9.30 pm and left Maureen on the sofa downstairs as she refused to go to bed..  I awoke around midnight and saw that she was fast asleep.  Three hours later I found her very confused and cold; wondering where the children were.  This scenario needs to be avoided and I have a number of ideas to discuss with support staff on that front.

I am optimistic that the involvement of the Home Treatment Team will help us on two fronts.  Firstly, to develop a strategy that eases Maureen’s levels of fear, distress and confusion. Secondly, to sharpen the focus on the type of support package that will ensure our ongoing well-being.


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