Life with Ma: 'Having a job to do and loving company keeps her happy'

Having a job to do and enjoying company helps to keep Ma's dementia at bay.

Ma is the mother of Dilly’s husband (Mr B), she was diagnosed with dementia in 2012. Ma agreed to let Dilly write about the family’s new life and experiences in the Life with Ma series.

Dilly's story continues...


Ma has gone back north to her other son after her new year stay with us. We were a bit anxious that she might be confused by settling into each familiar place only to be uprooted. However, apart from the packing, she takes it in her stride.

Packing presents a challenge as she can’t remember what she has at each house and, crucially, what she’s already packed. Her suitcase is bulging, but might contain jumpers and nothing else.

This isn’t really a big problem as her love of clothes shopping – which involves us having to steer her from the size 16s – means she has plenty at each house. I hastily add gloves, a hat and underclothes.

Over four years on and the Aricept (donepezil) seems to be working for her. Her memory clinic test score stays the same, but we worry that the drug may be withdrawn.

We have cheery words with her over the phone. She’s back in her alternative routine – looking after their ageing dog, ticking off the things she has to do (eat soup, drink tea) and filling the house with mountains of neatly ironed clothes while the TV is on full-blast. There is no doubt that having a job to do and loving company keeps her happy and the dementia at bay.

We watch her hunched over her endless crossword books – still pretty good, though asking for help sometimes – with a mixture of gratitude for her continued brain power, and apprehension about this fading further one day.

Dilly, a daughter-in-law

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