Dementia, a life changing disease, a life ending illness. I have worked with people with Dementia for a good many years and it never gets easier. Seeing the partner / family collapse around the patient as they can no longer cope with the changes in mood, behavior and deterioration in cognitive abilities. Each one that walks through our doors has a separate life story.
I know from person experience watching and helping to care for my own dad as he deteriorated and finally lost his struggle against dementia. I watched as I saw the head of our household deteriorate year after year, to the point where he ended up, spending the last few years bedridden, complete withdrawn from the world around him.
I watched him go to pieces as he knew something was wrong but couldn’t understand what was going on. He became more afraid as his memory failed him and then his ability to are for himself. each day when I could visit him in the care home, I saw little less of my dad. my mum went day in day out to sit with him, cared for him with the nurses and carers.
Thankfully with God’s grace and blessing he passed away gently and painlessly.
The hardest part of nursing dementia patients is telling the families to be positive, think of the good things, remember how they were, fill in life history books so we can get to know them better, knowing deep down what is coming down the road for the patient, the family. Each time the family asking is there a cure and why not, why has this happened, why do they do that.
Of course it also has its rewards, seeing someone come in either a physical mess or really unwell due to complications and we get them, on an even keel, better than they were, more calmer, more responsive, and finally move them on to a more suitable place were they can continue to live their lives. some have gone home, others go into a home. but this pit stop with us, gives the family some support and helps them recover and focus. they see past their guilt of failing their loved ones, they feel they are not alone, but amongst friends and professional carers who really do care, not only for the patient but the whole family concerned.
Would I give this up, give up the heartbreak of working with people with dementia, the struggle of resting my ghost. Some days I feel like I could just walk away, after one to many slaps, punches or kicks, one to many complaints, frustration from not being able to do anything for the suffering patient, but deep down I know I wouldn’t. I care and feel its my duty to continue to work in this field. It’s not glamorous and a lot of complaints and problems arise amongst families, but deep down I know the person concerned is safe and treated like he / she should be, with dignity and respect. It’s not nice coming into hospital for anything, but its a lot worse when you have dementia. a strange place, with strange faces and forgetting why you have come in, not really understanding that things were not ok at home despite what you believed, wanting to go home. suddenly cast out into a communal lounge, communal dining room, loud at times.
Like I said Dementia, a life changing disease, a life ending illness.