My wife Barbara and I are back again in England. This is because my Mother (Mum) rapidly deteriorated last Sunday and passed away peacefully in her sleep. She was a courageous woman and one of “The Greatest Generation”.
I would still like to share the essence of last week’s visit with you.
Less than two weeks ago I set off across the pond to visit my Mum in her Nursing Care Home. Those of you who have read these chronicles before will appreciate the tough road she has “travelled” this year. It was my fifth visit too and with a plan in place to come back again with my wife Barbara for Christmas to be with my Mum. Suffice to say the health of this tough 94 year old had declined and she was slowly fading.
For any Care Partner it is a sad sight to see a loved one you have known 70 years to progressively suffer physical and mental disabilities. The good news being that she was safe in the Care Home and well cared for by her Doctor and nursing staff. They showed tremendous empathy and gave warm care. My Mum still wanted to”go home”and it was so hard to explain why that was “not yet possible”. But I always validated and said that I too wanted her to go home! She is home now!
In her room where she was confined, I played my guitar every day to try and bring back happy memories to ease her distress. She remembered the songs from way back when such as “Side by Side”, “You are My Sunshine”, “White Christmas”, “The White Cliffs of Dover” and of course “Amazing Grace”. Stories of her past were all but forgotten and she was probably too tired to think back. However, she knew me and that I was there. She liked to see photos of my family, those of my Dad (who died too young in 1980) and hear her Grandsons (and Great Grandson’s) voices when they called. She enjoyed a healing prayer session with her local Anglican Vicar.
You have to be extremely thankful when you see the plight of some of the other people in the nursing home and indeed the severe problems experienced by your close personal friends. I have been staying in touch with one of my very close English friends who for now I will call Tom. He reads this blog! Tom’s wife has long suffered a debilitating illness and now, this year, has developed two types of dementia. It reminds me of just how indiscriminatory and insidious these diseases are, but it equally highlights the bravery of the Care Partners. In Tom’s cases he has been unusually brave and has fortified himself with the best dementia education that he can possibly find. He is open to advice and educated ideas. He is a really good human being and is doing amazing job caring for his wife who just happens to be one of my wife’s best friends.
Alzheimer’s touches us all.
The Alzheimers Society of the U.K. performs a great service and recently I spoke to them on Tom’s behalf to enlist support, advice and facilitation for the Care Partner. They responded in detail within hours. Impressive!
As in the USA it is possible to read daily reports here offering hope, and describing research and relevant statistics. Only yesterday the UK Alzheimer’s Society had this to say:
“The percentage of elderly American people who are living with dementia is falling, a new study finds.
The downward trend has emerged amid a rising tide of three factors that are thought to raise dementia risk – diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Those with the most years of education had the lowest chances of developing dementia, according to the findings published in JAMA Internal Medicine by a team from the University of Michigan.
With the largest generation in American history now entering the prime years for dementia onset, the new results add to a growing number of recent studies in the United States and other countries that suggest a downward trend in dementia prevalence.
Commenting on the research Alzheimer’s Society Head of Research Dr James Pickett said:
‘This American study reflects a trend being seen across a number of countries, including the UK, of a small reduction in the fraction of people who develop dementia at any given age.
‘These findings are encouraging as they strongly suggest that education and lifestyle factors, such as better heart health, are helping to reduce the risk of dementia. However, as people live longer and conditions like diabetes and obesity continue to rise, there’s no certainty this trend of reduction will continue. The total number of people with dementia is still set to increase, with a projected 200,000 new cases of dementia each year in the UK.
‘What is certain is that there is still a relatively small amount of research in the UK and globally that looks at risk factors. To address this issue, we urgently need to see the government invest in long-term studies that tell us how dementia is changing in the population.'”
Education is so important. Without wishing to sound like a broken gramophone record, programs such as Memory Matters “Brain Boosters” offers straight forward guidance to assist us promote better brain health for ourselves, friends and family. For anyone who regularly reads this blog, please do take the opportunity to call Memory Matters and find out more. You will not be disappointed.
Last and by no means least I offer my sincere thanks to my friends and Family who have offered practical advice and, or just offered their warm thoughts and prayers for my Mum.
May she Rest In Peace with my Dad in heaven.
Please share this if you believe it would help someone. Call 1 843 842 6688 Memory Matters office for more information. It’s always confidential.