Dementia: Real Suffering Verses Compassion

Today’s Buddhist teaching has great relevance to my thoughts this morning:

When I popped into Alderlea to warm Maureen’s toes yesterday she was sitting at a table, with a fellow resident, having breakfast.  I watched her for a while and chatted to a Senior Carer who remembered me as Phil Collins the guy who had checked out the Care Home of her previous employer.  I could see that Maureen’s hair was glistening and guessed correctly that she had been in the shower.  The Senior told me how Maureen had returned from personal care holding the hand of the carer.

When Maureen saw me she smiled and said ‘here’s Paul and is Barrie there’.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that she was expecting us to catch a bus so that she could go home to Nottingham to be with her her birth family.  I was relieved that she had no idea of what lay ahead: admission to another strange place -the  Konar Suite.

I used the thermal socks that I had bought as a distraction and left her newly found carer friend to check that they were the right size as I headed for the exit.  As I drove home I reflected how within the space of three nights my wife had become a dependent child – a shadow of the woman I know!

I was very reassured when I heard the news that Maureen’s transfer to Konar had gone well.  How kind of The Head of the Home Treatment Team to let me know that Maureen had been moved by people who knew her.  Similar kindness was shown by a Nurse from Konar who phoned to tell me that Maureen had settled down to being on the Ward.

I am meeting a member of staff from Konar this morning to help them develop a Care Plan for Maureen.  Although I’m inclined to accept their advice about when to visit my wife.  However, I’m concerned that delaying things could leave her feeling abandoned in a strange and frightening environment: that’s compassion rather than suffering!

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