Thursday, 13 December 2007


Any time from mid-afternoon onward, I have to be vigilant whenever Mum is out of my sight. If I haven't seen her for over 10 minutes, then chances are that she's undressing for bed. Maybe this is why I'm so tired myself, the constant tension of extending my senses throughout this house, straining my ears to hear the plaintive calling behind doors in different rooms, listening for Mum coming up the creaky stairs for the 5th time in 5 minutes, even listening for silence.

Anyway, there's a term I've learned recently: "sundowning". This seems to be a noted phenomenon with dementia patients, a marked worsening of their behaviour in the evening and at night. I'm not convinced: Mum is capable of odd behaviour on bright sunny mornings as well. To my mind, the undressing could equally be a response to the early darkness outside at this time of year and the fact that she's bored and cannot stimulate herself with books or TV.

I just caught Mum putting her nightie on at 8pm, which isn't unreasonable except that I'm still thinking of driving down South tonight. So I asked her to dress again. She managed to put on an entirely different outfit, since she had no idea what she was wearing 5 minutes before even though the discarded clothes were laid out on the bed in front of her. She started talking to me from inside her room and I asked her what was wrong. She told me that I was confusing her, asking her all these questions. I hadn't said anything since asking her to dress again.

Now, I've noticed for a few years that Mum will often start a conversation with "As I said to you..." or "Do you remember I told you...?" when discussing something entirely new to me, and she'll often respond to me with "You keep telling me that" when I know for a fact I've never in my life said that thing before. I've suspected for a while that Mum is having conversations in her head without me, but tonight's episode was a clear example. Poor thing, I'm bad enough to live with - Mum's plagued by phantom Gregs, too.

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