Supporting parents who are fifty shades

This is a day in the life of my sister. I will be forever in her debt for the time and compassion she gives to our parents. On the day described below she was meant to be taking just a couple of hours off work. It turned into a much longer time and she has to make up that time late into the evening. Here is her day:

I got to Dad’s at 10.30am to pick him up for his hospital appointment which was to check how he is going on after the heart procedure he had a few weeks ago.

 I was a bit surprised to see Mum in the corridor of Dad’s flat. It turns out she had been to Yoga but had got the day wrong and the yoga class is still on holiday for the Easter break. I had told her to ring the school before going when I talked to her last night, but she was sure she had it right! I guess she kind of didn’t want it not to be on because she loves it so much!

 I had already done Dad’s food shopping so up I go to Dad’s to sort his food out, throw away what he hasn’t eaten from last week and try to imprint on his forgetful brain what treats and tempting food there is for this week.

 I picked up his post which he always leaves on the side. The first letter I opened – thank goodness – was to say that his appointment for today had been changed to next week! He had opened it himself but never told me of the contents!!!

 I could tell he was disappointed at not having any time with Mum and me, even if it was only going to be for a hospital appointment.

 Then he asked if we could all go to lunch? I didn’t really want to as I needed to get back to work but… I said yes because I felt so sorry for him and he needs social contact and stimulation.

 But then mum was worrying about the dog and she said she had some post that she didn’t understand and could I look at it.

 So we all went to mum’s to sort the dog out and look at her post. The letter was from her solicitor. It said that I had written to the solicitor and it enclosed my letter. It also enclosed the Care Plan from the Older People’s Mental Health doctor that I had sent the solicitor so that she was aware that mum has dementia.

 I couldn’t believe it! I had told the solicitor that the doctor had quite clearly written on the plan that mum should not be shown her diagnosis yet the solicitor had written, “I know you don’t think there’s anything wrong with you Joan but…”

 I have no idea if Mum actually managed to read the letter and/or the Care Plan but she didn’t mention anything about it… Honestly, aren’t solicitors trained to understand dementia or at least check out the facts?

 Just as we were about to leave mum came out of her bedroom with a big brown envelope saying she had found it in one of her drawers.

 Guess what? It was the deeds to mum and dad’s house in joint names!!!

For background information, Mum has recently been to her solicitor to have the house put in joint names because even though we had told her it is already in both names she just didn’t believe us and insisted that the house was only in dad’s name.

Now, even though I showed her the documents with her signature on the deeds she was still doubtful, so I called the solicitor and made mum an appointment for Thursday afternoon so that the solicitor can reassure her that the documents are as they should be. And she’s going to let me take her – lucky me!

 We finally got to the pub for lunch at 12.15pm. Dad couldn’t make his mind up what to eat, then he went off to the loo, then he couldn’t make his mind up again because basically he reads the menu and by the time he’s got to the end of it he’s forgotten what was at the top of it.

 This went on and on with him getting more and more irritated with me because I kept suggesting things he might like in order to hurry the process along. In the end the waiter just stood there until dad said he’d have the same as mum.

 It all took forever and we finally got away at 2pm. Just as we were paying the bill Dad rather aggressively told the waiter that the food was terrible and he didn’t know how mum had eaten it. The waiter was shocked because he had been along to check if everything was ok AND dad had eaten every scrap of his meal!

 Oh, and then on the way to drop them off Mum announced she also had a letter from the DVLA which she had forgotten to show me.

 She thinks it says that they are still considering her case in respect of not driving – see ‘To drive or not to drive’. Goodness knows if the letter really does say that – for all we know it could be from someone else, like the one last week which she told me was from the solicitor when it was really from the Pension Credit people!

Then my sister went back to work and did what she would have done in the hours she had been helping our parents, which meant she was still working at 10pm that evening! Supporting anyone with dementia really isn’t easy which is why you really have to keep your sense of humour!