Maureen woke me at 3 am this morning as she stood at the top of the stairs wondering ‘where everybody was and if she was late for school’. She accepted my explanation that it wasn’t a school day and we were the only people in the house. I thought it unwise to join her in bed as she had gone to bed last night reprimanding me because I was failing in my duties as a member of staff of this Care Home. In fact she said she ‘wished she could get paid for doing as little as I did each day’.
I could hear her moving around again at 4.30 am and chanced my arm by opening her bedroom door. She was searching for a cardigan because she was cold. After hunting round for a while I eventually found the missing item safely stowed in the cupboard beneath the stairs. As I put out her light she thanked me for my efforts but I have no idea who she thought I was as I left her to go back to sleep.
I have not been back to sleep since the 3 am call this morning as my thinking hat was firmly on. Following the advice of Paul McKenna I got up and did something boring. After tidying up the kitchen from my efforts the night before I began to hunt for missing gear. Maureen is always hiding sharp knives as she fears intruders would use them once they had broken in. We bought three new ones the other day but they are now in a place of safety. They didn’t surface but I managed to find a chopping knife that has been hidden for a while: it is now safely hidden in my hidey hole. I then moved onto the bookcase.
Maureen spends part of most days shifting around books, pamphlets and photos in certain areas of the bookcase. It took me half an hour to put some of her proudest possessions in a place of safety, put photographs back in their frames, retrieve socks and other clothing items from her stash. Her mantra following dementia is ‘anything in any place’: so different to the well organised woman who used to be my wife.
I’ve just put in the first load of washing of the day, with a second waiting patiently for the machine to finish its cycle. Maureen loves to put washing on the line so that is one activity for her this morning as we await the arrival of a Support Worker from the Home Treatment Team at 11 am. This is the start of a process of the HTT seeing Maureen’s presentation first hand. They will witness her increased level of confusion, fluctuating emotional state and declining functional ability: a very different picture to that gained from conversations with Maureen where she holds her own with a host of confabulations based on her life prior to dementia.
Footnote: As I’m about to post at 7 am Maureen is moving around in her bedroom again. She is cold as she is lying on top of the quilt with only a blanket around her. I help her find additional bedding and she says ‘what kind of people would take bedding off people who are ill’. She looks bewildered as she pulls bedding around her and shuts her eyes. I hope that sleep brings her the one thing that seems absent from her waking hours: peace.