I never want to hear the words transient ischemic attack (TIA) and Vascular Dementia in my life ever again. Over the course of the last 4-5 years I went from my mother’s daughter to my mother’s parent.
I lost my mum mentally a long time before she finally died.
She had a stroke back in 2000 and over the course of the next few years she had a TIA’s … but she recovered… She bounced back and was still my mum.. however from 2013 she was plagued with ill-health. Arthritis struck and she became less mobile. The last time she left her house without the aid of paramedics and ambulance drivers was Christmas 2013.
During a hospital stay I was told she had the onset of Vascular Dementia… you see she had suffered a fall and needed hospital treatment… after the CT Scan in 2015 I was told my mum had vascular dementia. She was coming up for 90… even though she hadn’t been mobile for a far few months.. she was still fully functioning. She lived on her own… and could still hold a conversation with you.
Whatever happened that day whether it was another TIA that caused the fall we will never know, but after that September the dementia really started to take a hold.
I had previously been diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica and so I couldn’t do the caring that was need so, carers were arranged and first of all it was two visits a day. She could remember to get her own lunch.. but as time passed remembering to eat and drink at lunchtime was a task within itself. So carers were put in at lunchtime to get her a lunch.
I would talk to her on the phone and visit.. but slowly my mum was slipping away into a little world of her own. I had been told by doctors that with this kind of dementia her falls would get more and more frequent … they referred to it as Subcortical Dementia. And one of the side effects of that type of dementia was falls.
We had just turned another year and she was progressively getting worse, she wasn’t eating and drinking properly and after yet another fall, which she laid on the floor all night until the carers arrived, she was admitted to hospital. After treatment they told me the best place for her was now residential care. She wasn’t safe to be on her own.. as her eyesight was getting worse, her mobility had severely been affected and her dementia made it unsafe for her to live alone.
From that day forward I turned into my mother’s parent… I ceased to be her daughter…. my mum was being eaten by one of the most ravaging forms of dementia ever.
She resigned herself to the fact that she was in a home but unfortunately when she had to move to a permanent residential home and leave the rehabilitation centre, she became again confused, upset and resentful at being moved…. Deep in my heart I knew in her heart she would have hated it. The care home cared for her… with dignity and compassion and she was well looked after. I couldn’t fault their care… but I hated seeing my mum like this. My mum gained weight, looked better but the dementia was taking over and I was losing her more and more.
She was not remembering who was who… wondering why her sister never came to visit her, when in reality her sister has died at the age of 49 back in 1967. Wondering if her mum and dad were OK and if they were still living in May Road.
My mother was back in the 50’s and 60’s… and rarely mentioned my dad, who she loved with all her heart. It was as if she had completely forgotten that part of her life.
She was confused as to where she was living… and kept thinking she lived in a house that she left back in September 1968.
I had to made decisions on her behalf and at times for me… seeing my mum like this upset me to the point that at times I just didn’t want to go and see her like it… I wanted my old mum back… The woman she was… not the woman she became.
It was bad enough that she was deaf .. but a hearing aid solved that… but to take away her eyesight with macular degeneration and then give her vascular dementia seemed so cruel. At times she would remember me.. at times she just sat there and stared into the distance.
On the day she fell and died, whether she knew I was there or not… I don’t know. I hope she knew how much we loved her and how much she is going to be missed.
But dementia sucks… he takes a person and destroys them slowly…. their character, their personality is eaten alive and it leaves behind a shell of a person. Someone who loved going out and dancing and worshipped my dad was now someone who never mentioned him. It robbed her of her dignity, her life and her memories.
To hear you mum ask you about relatives that had died and wonder why they never bothered to see her… was soul-destroying. First of all I tried to say they were busy, or I hadn’t seen them; but you could see the hurt in her eyes. Truth and honesty was best.. so I told them they had died and couldn’t visit her. She seemed to accept that… but when I visited the next time… the same questions, the same requests of where are people came.
Dementia doesn’t just affect the person that has it… it affects families. It is so hard to see someone you love deteriorate and become a shell of the person they once were.
And when it comes to their death it is like losing them all over again.