A Dementia Carer’s Memoir
In the Beginning
So a new beginning started for us both, I registered myself unemployed, having no idea of what either of us was entitled to. My day now started with two bus rides from my new home via the town centre to where dad lived. Some days he was already up sitting in the communal lounge reading a paper, some days I had to ring his flat to wake him to gain entry. I would make him breakfast, tidy up a bit and try to engage him in conversations about life, what he wanted to do or anything I deemed important.
Everyday was repetitive and down hearting, watching a once strong proud man not be bothered with his health, his appearance or his hygiene. Before I had moved away he would engage more, read his paper cover to cover, do the crossword, watch the TV and visit the pub to meet friends nightly never drinking to excess, but now he did none of that except read the paper and visit the local club to drink till he was bored with that. It was like someone had replaced my once vibrant father with a unhygienic alcoholic, a totally different person, he had become obsessed with the need to be in the club, or the local pub, having no interest in anything else.
In those early days of caring I had little control over his activities and wondered if what I was doing made any difference. I decided as long as I made sure he ate three times a day, had clean clothes to wear, changed his underwear daily and paid attention to his personal hygiene I was winning.
When he was ready to go to the club I would walk him down, going in for up to an hour before jumping on the bus to town where I would spend some alone time wandering the shops, visiting the library, running errands and people watching in a river side coffee shop. I got dad in to the habit of phoning me to let me know when he was back in the flat, then would jump the next bus back to him to ensure he was okay and also feed him.
The next stage of the day would be to keep him company till his inabilty to stay still, got the better of him then walk him back to the club, remind him to call me when he got home and then go home myself for the night, but I found I couldn’t settle till he phoned me. This was our daily routine for the foreseeable…