When I thought about writing a blog regarding this subject I wondered if anyone would be interested. After all, unless you’re affected by the condition how is it possible for anyone to understand what it can do to a sufferer or their family? There has been copious amounts written on the subject and I really can’t add anything to that; I can just give a small insight into a life devoured by vascular dementia.
‘How’s Mary?’ is the general question, asked out of politeness and concern. What can I say? She’s dementing. She has been for ten years or more and presumably her heart could go on beating for another ten years. She knows no-one, not even her own name. She doesn’t speak unless she’s strongly encouraged and what she says doesn’t make much sense. She doesn’t walk any more and she’s doubly incontinent. She kicks and tries to scratch anyone who touches her as she doesn’t understand they mean her no harm.
For the last four years she’s been in a wonderful residential home who give her the best possible care. I fed her at lunchtime on Friday. She chewed a bit of food and then pushed it out of her mouth as if she were a six month old baby.
And yet … and yet every now and again if she hears a particular song lyric or a nursery rhyme, she smiles. That smile is priceless. So that’s how we manage to carry on.
We do it for the smile that appears occasionally and I know somewhere deep inside her she’s still Mary Haiselden, my mum.