Family comes first for Silvana even though her dad may not recognise her this Easter
Silvana is a 40-year old mum to three young girls. Her father was only 62 when he was diagnosed with younger onset dementia.
“Dad was the musical director of a big Italian club for 40 years. He wasn’t just a musician who loved to play, he was one of those people who could hear a song then play it back instantly.”
Watching her dad Enzo, put a smile on everyone’s face while playing his piano accordion at family celebrations is one of Silvana’s fondest memories – and one that she’s grateful to share with her own daughters.
“My girls used to love watching their Nonno play happy birthday and the chicken dance for them. They’d all get up onto the dance floor and have fun together.”
Helping her daughters come to terms with the changes in their grandfather has been a heartbreaking experience for Silvana.
“My eldest daughter who’s 10 has taken it the hardest,” she says. “Sometimes she doesn’t sleep because she’s worried if Nonno is going to be okay. When we go to the nursing home she holds his hand the whole time. It’s hard to see your kids worry so much about something you can’t change.”
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Dementia’s not like cancer where you can see a tumour and a surgeon says, ‘We’re going to remove that tumour'. There’s no cure for dementia. You can’t remove anything and hope to get better.
Silvana’s mum continues to grapple with the unknown every day.
“Mum does the best she can, but she still cries a lot,” Silvana says. “She’s lost her life partner.”
The person that you know and love is still there, but they’re not there. That’s the hardest thing to cope with. You’re mourning that loss every day.
For Silvana, every holiday brings a little sadness. “At Easter we’ll all go together and spend time with him just like we did at Christmas when we took all our presents in so we could open them with him.”
“It’s hard because the things that used to bring him joy don’t seem to register with him anymore. I used to put piano accordion music on for him and his hands would move slightly as if he was remembering how to play but then he’d get irritated and we’d have to turn it off. The aggression that comes with my dad’s dementia is hard to see – he was always so gentle.”
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