Supporting a parent with Dementia can have its lighter moments even if it is sometimes hard to reconcile what is happening to your Mum or Dad with the person who supported you through your childhood. Their actions can also land you in hot water with the neighbours!
This week Dot in Eastenders has been having some problems. The plot suggests they are related to her mental health. Or are they? Dot has had food go missing, specifically her cold cuts, her ham, out of the fridge. Cora got the blame, with Dot believing that she had duplicated her key and was coming into the house and taking things. Then a twist in the plot emerged with Fats being caught sleep walking but is it all down to Fats or is the stress that Dot is facing with the council showing up the early stages of Dementia?
Ok, I hear you say, that’s just the plot of a Soap, but not to my sister and me. I watched in amazement as Dot stressed about her ham and her key. Then when the episode finished I text my sister and said “Mum must be moonlighting as the Eastenders script writer!” because the BBC are showing the identical scenario we have been through with our own Mum. Right down to the Ham!
Mum is convinced someone is coming into the house at night and eating her Ham. They also come in and move or steal her magazines, remove soup from the fridge, eat her bread and eggs and generally move things around so she can’t find them. It has got so bad that she has twice confronted the elderly next door neighbour and scared the poor lady half to death!
Different friends and family get accused in regular succession, some days it’s our Dad who lives several miles away and is so poorly that he can hardly get out of his chair. On other days it’s the cleaner in the frame and frequently my sister gets the blame. I’m lucky enough to escape as I live too far away to pop down for a ham sandwich!
When we ask the doctors how to manage this situation they say, “don’t agree with her that someone is coming in but also don’t try to persuade her she is mistaken and don’t tell her that it’s her hiding things and then forgetting where she has put them.”
My sister and I are intelligent people who hold down demanding jobs and are both quite skilled at dealing with people but we have yet to find a way to not agree and at the same time not disagree and have any sort of reassuring conversation with Mum who is often quite scared by the loss.
Any ideas gratefully received!