Today wasn’t a good day. Life has its ups and downs, but for people with dementia these ups and downs can be quite pronounced.
In the last couple of weeks dad has had a few falls. He fell out of bed today.
You and I can fall out of bed and get a bruise. For an older person or a person with dementia they fall out of bed and can die.
For a person with dementia any little thing can set off a decline in health whether cognitive or physical health. Dad fell out of bed and today apart from a cut lip he is unable to open his eyes, is immobile, and is extremely confused. He also seemed to be in a lot of pain.
Dad is in a dementia wing of a nursing home. When I arrived this afternoon he was unable to communicate and yet I knew something was wrong. He was sitting slumped in a wheelchair with a look of anguish on his face.
You would like to think that a nursing home will look after your family member in the best way possible. This does not happen. The only way that they can look after your family member is if they have constant attention or at lease staff that are proactive in their caring technique, not just reactive.
My father is in what’s known as one of the better nursing homes in Canberra but we still often find him in dirty clothes, smelly, unkempt and it is heartbreaking.
When I saw Dad this afternoon I looked at him and I thought to myself here is a brilliant man, a great dad, a widely published entomologist but here he was: incoherent, immobile, incontinent and in pain. He was completely unable to communicate and if he had realised his current situation, I know there is absolutely no way he would want to live like this.
I’m guessing that by looking at him this afternoon, he has a delirium again. We hate seeing him like this and why is it that falls or declines in health like an infection always happens on the weekend?
Dementia is NOT a normal part of getting old. It is a disease, often of the elderly and sadly increasingly commonly of middle-age.
Caring for someone with dementia is relentless and it takes a whole family to be able to do it effectively, even when the person with dementia is in care. We thought it would be easier with dad being safe and having 24 hour care. It is still relentless.
I don’t wish dementia on anyone, it is an awful disease.
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Hilary Wardhaugh Photography