The stories on these pages are from people affected by dementia.
I write this on behalf of my son whose wife Jodie developed Dementia/Alzheimer’s in her late 40’s after being told her symptoms were menopausal.
Sadly pathology, brain scans and a battery of other testing proved otherwise and we set out on a road thwart with obstacles, joy, discovery, wonder, puzzlement, unbelievable sadness and a whole new learning for all concerned.
I lay here in my bed awake still, sleep I know at some stage I will,
My journey with Alzheimer’s began about three months before my husband was diagnosed with the disease in September 2007.
I noticed that my husband was repeating the same conversations several times each day and, to begin with, it was generally about the weather. When you hear the same sentences numerous times each day, it not only irritates but it points to some underlying problem. I was lucky and managed to get my husband to see a specialist with a few months of first noticing this trait.
My mother’s name was Ruth Hawkins and we finally celebrated her passing February this year.
We watched Ruth battle dementia for over ten years. Ten years ago support, assistance, knowledge was at a minimum and difficult to co ordinate for someone who did not want to accept their fate.
THE ROAD FORWARD IS THE WAY BACK
Dried reeds dance in the wind by the side of the road as the miles pass by, And sunlight streaming through the car window in rays connects my present to my childhood past.
Shapes of gathering clouds elicit from deep within my mind memories of lying on my back in perfect harmony and tranquillity with my world and letting my imagination take over my very being.
There is nowhere I can’t go and nothing I can’t do, empowered by the boundless montage of fantasies I can create from the sensations surrounding me.
My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago, aged 60, and there is barely any aspect of her life that has been unaffected by her diagnosis.
She had to retire earlier than she would have otherwise and has not been able to enjoy retirement to the fullest, as she so deserved. Mum’s communication has also been affected by the dementia.
She often has things she wants to tell us because she still has interests and notices the things going on around her, but the words regularly escape her, leaving her scared, sad and frustrated.
My mother died from dementia just over a year ago. She was 79 years old and had been first diagnosed in her late 60s.
Prior to that she spent just over two years in a locked dementia unit, initially classified as low care. She was prescribed haloperidol and it was used routinely in her residential dementia unit. I do not think it directly contributed to her death though it did affect her quality of life.
My mother in law, Norma Jamieson, was diagnosed with Dementia, around 4 years ago.
She was referred to a specialist whom confirmed she had Alzheimer’s, and placed Norma on medication. Norma lived alone in Balwyn North, as she had done since her separation from my father in law some 25-30 years earlier.
Initially the medication seemed to help a little, and then it seemed to be preventing her disease from progressing. Norma did have other issues, something to do with her thyroid, which had mental ability complications, also heart disease.
I have held an interest in dementia since my late mother-in-law developed early onset Alzheimer’s disease in the mid-1970s.
My mother-in-law lived in England where National Health Service institutions owed too much to a former and now thankfully bygone era. My memory of bewildered patients wandering scantily clad and barefoot on cold shiny linoleum, along green and cream corridors, and rows of narrow beds in curtained communal wards where the air was thick with the smell of stale urine and disinfectant, has stayed with me.
A gnarled hand, a knitted blue cap, A sky blue shawl held close. The slight, girlish voice asks, ‘What shall I do next?’
What was her life, this figure with a shawl? Did she dance the tarantella; play the harp; See Easter Island. Live in Zimbabwe; Be outraged by injustice?
Now she wanders. A grandson visits, ‘Heather’ he calls her. Heather, light and ephemeral.
The green eyes are bright, They see but the focus is opaque. ‘Duncan’, she calls. Yes, I knew Duncan. Where is he now?