DAW2023: Why I hope mum's story will help those facing dementia diagnosis - The Evesham Observer

DAW2023: Why I hope mum's story will help those facing dementia diagnosis

Evesham Editorial 17th May, 2023 Updated: 17th May, 2023   0

DEMENTIA is a growing a problem in this country with continued warnings of a ‘dementia timebomb’ on the NHS and on the older population.

Since I first shared my mum’s story in 2016, the effects of this crippling and cruel illness have become more and more part of life.

Which is why this Dementia Action Week I’m sharing it again in the hope it encourages someone to recognise the signs and reassure loved ones in particular that you are not alone.

A number of years ago my mum began to repeat conversations we’d had maybe an hour earlier – at the time we laughed about it and she would call her self a ‘silly old woman’ and I’d think nothing of it.

As the years progressed though, the repetition got more and more frequent – on a night out with friends mum repeated the same conversation numerous times during the one evening.

Eventually, we sought help as a family and she was diagnosed with vascular dementia – one of a number of different types of the condition.

That’s one of the problem with dementia, no two cases are the same, what affects one person won’t affect another.

For me the most painful part to deal with was the fact that unlike any other illness or disease, nothing can be done to make someone with dementia better, you can only slow the decline.

Basically you don’t die because of dementia, you pass away with it.

When the decline began with mum it was slow but heartbreakingly for me, my dad and our family it began to take away the person we all new.

My mum was an extrovert, the sort of person who would walk into a room and know everyone within ten minutes. As a rather shy young man I revelled in having someone so confident to look up to.

But slowly but surely she began to decline, my dad reached retirement age but immediately began another job as her carer.

One night I rushed to their side after mum had opened the front door and shouted for help as she was being kept against her will by my dad. She wasn’t of course, it was her illness manifesting itself.

Eventually we were forced to embrace care homes to ensure she had the best care but more importantly she was safe.

Infections came and went as her body’s tolerance of coping with such unwelcome visitors was lowered.

My dad meanwhile was by her side throughout, devoting much of what should have been his retirement to being there for her.

He, myself and all our family watched on powerless as the woman we all loved changed.

Yet while not being able to hold a conversation, a kiss on the cheek from either me or my dad would bring a smile to her face. It was as if deep down she always knew we were there.

While the diagnosis is awful for the person concerned, the effect on family members is also devastating. I became a father during my mum’s illness but at times did wonder if she would ever meet her grandson.

Luckily she did and I think deep down she always knew when Jacob came to visit her, which we as family did on Sunday, February 21, 2016

On the morning of Tuesday, February 23 I had a missed call before 8am. It was my dad.

When I rang back, he broke the news his beloved wife and my dear mum Sheila had passed away in her sleep.

When she was first diagnosed, I was of course devastated but hoped for two things – that she would pass on always knowing her husband and her son and family and she would not suffer.

I’m proud to say she didn’t and while I will always miss her and feel angry this horrid disease took her long before she was ready, I am glad she is now at peace and out of her suffering.

What my dad and our family experienced is scary but I would urge anyone affected by dementia not to face it alone.

Hundreds of thousands of families are touched by dementia every year and many people don’t know where to turn.

If you’re worried that you, or someone close to you, might have dementia, call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or e-mail [email protected] for advice and support

You can check your symptoms here: http://alzheimers.org.uk/memoryloss 


Receive a weekly update to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter.

Reader Travel

Check out all of the latest reader travel offers to get your hands on some free gifts.

Buy Photos

Buy photos online from the Evesham Observer newspaper.

Business Directory

From plumbers, to restaurants, we can provide you with all the info you need.