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.
Both my parents were diagnosed with dementia within 2 years of each other: my father with Lewy Body Disease, my mother with Alzheimer’s.
As I lived an hour and a half drive away, I became a long distance carer for four years.
Dad died in 2010 and Mum entered care 10 months later.
I still care for Mum – but as a daughter rather than the primary carer. I could not have done what I did without the assistance of my family, a wonderful group of friends and organisations like Alzheimer's Australia and various Homecare groups.
As a Registered Nurse for over 20 years I have witnessed the ongoing use and abuse of chemical restraint for elderly across Australia; it is a prevalent practice that I find is due to a number of reasons including:
I went through the public system having blood tests, bone marrow biopsies, psychological tests, cat scans and MRI tests. They all came back negative. The doctors said they couldn't find out what was wrong with me. It was only that we pushed for a SPECT test that finally showed the severe damage in my brain that was causing the dementia.
It has been 9 years since my father had a heart transplant giving him a new lease of life and allowing us to have him with us for much longer.
Unfortunately, the drugs that suppress my father’s immune system cause him to frequently develop skin cancers even though he never ventures into the sun. He is, in fact, currently undergoing radiotherapy for a deadly melanoma known for its prevalence to those with suppressed immune systems.
What makes the side effects of his medication more challenging is the fact that he has vascular dementia.