I did my very best to give Maureen a lovely birthday. Things went well until late evening when we walked along the Prom and Maureen she told me that she felt so alone living in a strange place. This feeling intensified when we returned home: ‘somewhere I had bought with money I had stolen from her’. This theme continued as the evening progressed until I decided to take myself out of the firing line and go to bed. I was awoken a couple of hours later by Maureen banging on our front door and begging to be let out.
Once I was in sight the verbal assault continued about my selfish nature: ‘bringing my wife to a horrible cottage and completely ignoring how she wanted to spend her time.’ The attack became relentless and I phoned Single Point of Access to advise our Key Worker that I was exhausted I would need additional support today. As always he will phone as soon as he in the office to discuss an appropriate way forward.
Once things calmed down a little with Maureen eventually apologising for her ongoing outburst, I had time to think about what was going on. I noticed that all of her birthday cards were scattered around the house unopened. I remembered how she had been adamant that people should be coming to see her on her birthday rather than chasing around the country to see them. Then I also recalled how she had refused to take a phone call from her son late in the evening: we had missed earlier calls from him and his brother.
Maureen’s presentation on her birthday reminded me of David Sheard’s thesis that feelings matter most with dementia:
How would we expect someone with moderate to severe dementia express feeling deserted of their birthday? What other option did Maureen’s have than to share her feelings of neglect with the only person who had been present on her birthday!