Friday 18 September 2009

will he be there when we get home?

Our relatives, D&G, visited Mum yesterday.

D was a bit glum on the phone this morning. She said that it had been saddening to see Mum so confused and lost for words, that there had been less of the "woman she was" there.

As usual, they had eaten lunch together in the restaurant downstairs from Mum's flat. At the end of the meal, when they were getting up to leave and take her up again, Mum asked, "Will Greg be there when we get home?"

For me, that one little sentence is so rich with pathos that I can hardly bear it.

If I was counselling someone else in my position about this I would probably try to reassure them that they were at least remembered and wanted. But it doesn't help. I just feel so desperately sad.

Friday 4 September 2009

love and alzheimer's

"Is there anything I can bring you next time I visit?"

"No, I don't think so, Dear,...unless...."


"I'd like a Boyfriend."

I smile, keeping my response "That's two of us!" to myself. Mum's just told me that she is 35, so I'm guessing that I'm not an "out" man this week.

At the next table, two of the residents have been a couple for the past year. In previous visits I've been a bit concerned that the man of the two was a bit overbearing - I worried that the woman had been coerced into this relationship. Tonight, it suddenly strikes me that they're the two least deteriorated residents in the room, and I wonder if their mutual focus and companionship is somehow slowing their descent. I wonder if Mum grasps this on some level. Mum is a tenacious survivor and has an almost infallible instinct on health matters.

I know that there will be many many cases of loving partners who have watched their spouses slide away into dementia, so I'm not naïvely suggesting that love can slow this disease. However, there is an intensity and focus required when one is courting someone (as I dimly recall). Wooing requires a special effort to present oneself at one's best and take pains to learn and retain as much about the other as possible. These are both strong tides to resist in dementia. If there's something in this, I envisage a task-force of gigolos and 'ladies of easy virtue' to be activated and sent into Care Homes up and down the land.

I think it's time for me to rent the movie "Away from Her"