Sunday, 16 November 2014

Note to self

Some days things really don't work. Yesterday was one of those days.

I’ve been away. A week down South. Almost two weeks since I’ve last seen Mum.

I missed her and as soon as I arrived I could tell that she’d missed me too.

I breezed in just after lunch - Mum’s best time. She looked great, sitting in the sunroom, reading the paper. Mauve blouse, matching scarf and lipstick too. So pleased to see me!

The less said about this visit the better.

To cut a long story short, first I tried to combine the drive home with a trip to the supermarket. This took three times longer than expected. Mum opted to wait in the car, which soon became unbearably hot. Unable to operate the electric windows or keep the door propped open, she spent 10 minutes walking up and down the street looking for me.

We both cooled off and drove to my house. We drank tea then got talking about my father’s relatives. I decided what we really needed was a picture. So I hopped on the computer. I then attempted to explain a multilayered diagram representing a five generational family tree. “It’s a lot more complicated than people think,” said Mum. Exactly.

At that point I realised I was running late for going out. I explained the problem to Mum who promptly forgot. I then then rushed to and fro, organising someone else to take her home, hunting for a lost present, texting last minute arrangements and finding something to wear. Then I said goodbye to Mum and went downstairs.

As Mum was leaving I was yelling instructions to various people up the stairs whilst also trying to zip up my dress. “I haven’t said goodbye,” said Mum. So I explained again. We were both getting more and more stressed.

“The problem,” said Mum who by this stage was wobbly and slightly teary, “is that I’m not completely au fait with what you're doing.”

In fact, the problem was me.

I’ve been thinking today, about what went wrong. Here’s my list.

I was multitasking. Doing other things while caring for Mum means I make a bad job of both. Plus it’s stressful and frustrating.

I went too fast and things got busy and complicated. All due to lack of planning.

There were distractions and noise - for people with dementia, communication is hard enough without competing sights, sounds and activities.

So, what’s to learn?

  • Plan ahead to free yourself up.
  • Enjoy the moment.
  • Concentrate and notice what helps. 
  • Slow down to a pace that works for both of you. 
  • Keep things simple.

Next time, I’ll take my own advice.


  1. Hey, remember, you were there, and you always give so much…

  2. I know, that's very true. And sometimes I still forget the basics.