In recent times, I have come to understand the heavy weight that comes with being closely involved with someone else’s misery.
Most of the posts I have done in respect of caring for my 91 year-old mum who has Alzheimer’s Dementia – whilst they have often addressed negative or tricky things – have generally been positive.
At the very least, written with a solution in mind.
I’m afraid that this post is not so positive, and I don’t have a solution, but I think lots of people will resonate with what’s happening for us – maybe this time, it’s just about sharing and knowing you’re not alone.
And that you should not feel guilty when you have to bring others in to share the load.
I have always thought myself a strong person. Most people who know me well, would agree, and I am a truly optimistic person – of that I am sure.
In recent weeks I have come to realise that I am not strong enough to withstand what I am facing now – the weight of another person’s misery.
In this case, my mum’s.
She has reached the time where she is in such a level of discomfort – with sore eyes, aching arthritic feet, tingling legs, memory loss and just an overall feeling of being unwell and out of control – that she wants to die.
And because of her memory, she can’t fix it for herself, and we can’t fix it for her.
We see her several times every week, and we underpin the day-to-day things in her life, but now, the support we can offer is simply not enough.
The toughest call of all though, is that we have to take my mum out of the decision-making process because the truth is she cannot remember what she needs remember to be part of this.
Seeing all of this unwind for her makes me remember a lovely cat we had called Stripey, who grew to a very great age – in human years, he went beyond his 100th year.
He wound up with all sorts of problems, many of them painful, and when his suffering became too much, we were able to save him from his misery.
My mother has no such choice, and nor do we. We are stuck with forcing in-home care upon her, or putting her into high-care, perhaps even a memory unit.
Even taking the in-home care option, the cost to her dignity is going to be high.
For her, she will see strangers coming into her home to dictate when she showers and when she washes her hair, strangers asking her the most personal questions about medical treatments, and strangers criticising her ability to manage the most basic parts of living.
My heart hurts for her, and my heart hurts for all of the other people living with dementia who cannot control their own lives.
My hear hurts too, for the people like me and my husband, who ultimately have to take responsibility, and carry the weight of another person’s misery.
Who do you know that’s just not managing the day to day because of memory problems?
Whether it’s because of dementia, an acquired brain injury or a mental illness – the result is stress and worry for individuals and for families and carers.
We can help!