She’s a Clever Cat

Sometimes when people have dementia we can underestimate them. It is easy to think that because someone is confused and forgets their words, events and people that they have somehow lost what we call intelligence. This Fifty Shades story demonstrates the opposite. The events were communicated to my sister by a mental health nurse who is acting as a befriender to mum.

Mum has never liked taking medication. As you may have read in our post, In the beginning… Part I, many years ago mum had some sort of a breakdown. My sister and I were fairly young at the time so we don’t know what the precise diagnosis was, but after a spell in hospital she was on anti-depressants for quite some years.

She eventually weaned herself off them and swore she would not take them again. Around that time she was also diagnosed with high blood pressure but rather than take more medication she started Yoga. She used Yoga and daily meditation to successfully control her blood pressure. However, because of mum’s current complicated condition the mental health consultant has prescribed anti-depressants again.

Mum doesn’t even like taking her heart pills so we knew she would not be happy about the anti-depressants. After several visits to the GP and visits from the community nurse she finally agreed to take them. The GP arranged for the tablet to be added to mum’s Medisure blister pack which is made up each week by the chemist. See here for more information – a must for anyone with Dementia.

My sister checks periodically, and discreetly, that the blister pack is minus the appropriate tablets. So it looked like Mum was complying although she was constantly asking what each tablet was for and coming up with reasons why she shouldn’t take them.

It’s actually quite difficult for my sister and me because we don’t generally favour conventional medication, preferring to take the more holistic approach to well-being, however we feel we need to support the doctors because mum is in a lot of distress and they are hoping that a side benefit of the anti-depressants might be a lessening of the paranoia.

Last week the mental health nurse visited mum and during the visit she asked mum how she was getting on with her tablets, “Fine”, says Mum and shows her the blister pack which was untouched.

So the nurse called my sister to find out when the pack was due to be started. My sister confirmed that mum should have started the pack on Monday so she is now three days behind. Then, whilst still on the phone, the nurse came across a glass jar which had lots of tablets in it.

To cut a long story short it seems that Mum had been taking her tablets out of the blister packs and putting them into the glass jar! Of course mum had a good reason why each of the tablets was in the jar and had not been taken. “This one makes me giddy; this one upsets my stomach; this one makes my legs ache…”

Oh, not so forgetful after all then mum!

At one level we applaud her strength of mind to do what she believes despite pressure from the medical team. At another level it prolongs the difficulties, always assuming that taking the little white pills will have the desired effect and no side effects other than an upset stomach, just by looking at them!