The roles have reversed - we are having to parent her and make decisions on her behalf, which is painful and stressful, we are having to negotiate with the medical profession, ask the questions and deal with the shock - our own shock but also hers.
This week we took her to see the consultant gerontologist for the results of all the recent tests, which were to establish the cause of the dementia, and identify any possible treatment she could receive. in some cases, drug therapy can slow down the progress of this cruel condition, but it cannot be cured.
The consultant was wonderful, but was very straight with her. He told her quite openly that she has dementia, that her memory is failing and that she is worse than she believed herself to be. Of course she argued against this; wouldn't we all?
He replied that because of her problems she isn't seeing the bigger picture, but that myself and my brother are which is why we've made her go to all the appointments - and try to stop her from cancelling them!
She crumbled before our eyes. She visibly shrank and went into shock, it was one of the most horrible moments I've ever had to witness. It did seem brutal, but on reflection it has opened the door to talking about it with her, rather than us all 'pussyfooting' around and trying to protect her from the truth. The consultant explained to us that he found this by far the best way to deal with it, and that he not only had many years of dealing with this professionally, but that he also had personal experience of it as well.
Unfortunately the tests have not revealed conclusively the cause of her dementia, but her care is now being handed over to the local mental health team.
After this, we took her out for coffee, after a shock it can be quite helpful to have some mental, emotional and physical space and of course, the opportunity to de-brief; the space to talk it through and unpack the feelings.
Sadly, my mother is of a generation that does not talk about feelings, which does make it harder. My brother and I have compared notes - we only ever recall a few times her telling us that she loved us; but then if you are trained from an early age not to acknowledge or work with your feelings, then you won;t have the language to do it. Mercifully, our generation and those that follow do have an emotional language and do openly acknowledge feelings, which is much healthier.
During our chat, I could clearly see the spirit of my beloved grandmother, mum's mum, standing behind her with her arms round mum. I shared this with mum, who could feel her own mother's presence, which was a lovely moment. She is not alone.
We reassured her as best we could, that so long as she co operates with a care package, there's no reason why she can't remain in her own home; which is what she dearly wants, but the whole situation is heartbreaking. Of course we can't and won't promise that she won't go into a home, for we do not know what the future holds, and we will have to do what is right for her at any given time. And we do have to face the fact that at some point, it may become necessary to move her into a home. In my quiet moments, I have asked the Angels and my ancestors in spirit to take her gently during her sleep one night, so that we can spare her that.
Apart from all the medics and agencies involved, I am also meeting with professionals whose job it is to support me, as her main carer. Although I tend to be a very independent person, the enormity of this
coupled with the stress and emotions involved has meant that I have chosen to gratefully accept all the help that is offered to me. I have a support worker from the Alzheimer's Society, I've been offered a £350 carer's grant for 'me time', and I shall be attending a CBT for Carer's 12 week course.
There will be no end to this situation until mum passes into the light, and I have to be able to keep going as best I can in the meantime. And I have no doubt it will get worse as time goes on.
I have been asking for an angel to be with her each day, to watch over her, comfort her and keep her safe. Every day it's a different angel, I sense that they are 'trainee angels' or novices for the want of a better description; each day I am given the name. None of us can be with her all the time, but at least I know that she is not alone; she is watched over.
The spirit of my grandmother has been with me so much during recent months, I feel her round me and I do chat with her, ask her for help and guidance. She has told me through a medium, that I'm doing all the right things, getting all the right advice and that she is smoothing the way, and that my mother doesn't have that long left on the earth plain.
My brother has also had a premonition that she only has a further 6 - 12 months left, so we have been having the painful discussions about her end of life care and funeral arrangements. Although these are difficult and painful things to discuss, we both agreed that it was best done whilst we are clear headed rather than leaving it until we have an emergency situation to deal with. So far, we have agreed on everything; it will make it easier in the long term.
God bless you mum, may your passing be gentle, easy and may you be surrounded by our ancestors and angels and of course your earthly family when the time comes.