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56, South east England

Graham realised that his 83-year old mother was becoming more and more forgetful. This is the story of how he and his family tried to cope with her dementia.

"I live 100 miles away from my parents. Obviously we were seeing them a certain amount, but you’re not in and out of the home. I’m an only child and there wasn’t direct family involvement seven days a week.

My parents are of that generation that says, ‘We’re OK, we’re doing alright, there’s a lot worse than us.’ Like a lot of older folk, they seemed to be on this tablet and that tablet and mother increasingly became confused. For instance, she’d have a cup of coffee and say, ‘Oh I need a tablet with that,’ and I’d say, ‘But you’ve just had one of those.’ That really did begin to concern us.

It was obvious to family and friends that things were perhaps not as ideal as they might be. Myself and my wife visited on Saturdays and perhaps a bit of an effort was made then, but if anybody just dropped in, things were obviously not as they should be. My wife commented that they were on a ‘cake and sandwich’ diet because it required no cooking and limited preparation. Anybody can make a cheese sandwich and cut a slice of cake off and we’ve all done that at some stage, but not on a long-term seven days a week basis.

Looking for help for dementia

"We didn’t have a choice of home because it happened so rapidly but we have landed on our feet - we couldn’t have picked somewhere better."

We got someone to come in and do a bit of basic tidying around the home. My mother was incredibly house proud and you wouldn’t have found a smidgen of dust anywhere. But in the last three or four years the house was filthy in places, because they simply weren’t able to do, or weren’t aware that they weren’t doing, those sort of things, so we said, ‘You need somebody in.’ There was an organisation that provided hot nutritious meals, so we started getting those in a couple of times a week.

We got to the stage of four visits a day, which worked for a period of time. Then the GP said we should get my mother a day’s assessment at an assessment unit.

Moving to a care home for dementia

The decision was made for her to go into care. She’s in a care home now with a specialist floor for dementia. To be honest, we didn’t have a choice at the time because it happened so rapidly but, in fact, we have landed on our feet because we couldn’t have picked somewhere better. The staff are superb. I think physically she’s looking better than she has done for weeks and months because she’s fed and watered and the washing is done. They get her up, there’s a warm meal, there’s things happening around her and if she slips over or anything, there is someone there to pick her up."

More information

Page last reviewed: June 2016
Next review due: August 2018