Jacqueline's mum mum aged 86 with Lorna and Alex, her grandchildren

'Mum was not Mum' - Jacqueline's story about her mother's dementia diagnosis

When Jacqueline's mum stopped doing the things she enjoyed, she took her to the GP. She tells her story of Audrey's diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease and the changes in her behaviour.

As I am a nurse, I knew Mum was not Mum.

My mum, Audrey, is 87, and a widow. Her home and garden became neglected. Everything would be out of her kitchen cupboards and clothes strewn everywhere with unpaid bills mounting up!

She had stopped going to her much-loved WI and ‘Darby and Joan’ venue where she baked and helped cook lunch for other elderly ladies and gentlemen.

Whenever I tried, as delicately as possible, to ask ‘What is happening here?’, she would reply ‘I am happy as I am like this. All is fine.’ When I asked her doctor, their response to me was if Mum wants to live like that, that's her business.

I brought her to live in Dorset where I was lucky to have a GP as an old school friend. I brought Mum for a check-up... The rest is history. Mum has Alzheimer's disease. But, of course, in Mum’s opinion, the doctor doesn't know what she is on about, silly!

On clearing out Mum’s bungalow, my heart sunk, and I blamed myself, an only child whose loving dad died aged 57. What would he think?

Why didn't I see the signs earlier? Was I so wrapped up in my own career and family? 

I found some Christmas cards. Some were written and stamped, some without stamps, but there were piles of them - several of them written to the same people. They must have been in the cupboard for years. I told Mum and she said to send them. Best not, I said, because what if a partner has passed over? Never mind then, she said. You don't know at the time whether to laugh or cry.  

Mum was never very forthcoming with love and affection. The older I get, the more I am finding that harder. She bows her head if I try to kiss her and hug her.

She is still my mum outside, but inside often childlike.  

Mum can have tantrums and will swear, which is totally out of character for her! The grandchildren think it's cool sometimes, but if we are out, Mum doesn't hold back. I feel at times that I need to justify to others in order to avoid confrontation.

Mum was very strait-laced but will now walk around in a state of undress. Sadly, I am unable to care for her due to a badly broken wrist. I have carers coming to bathe Mum as she will not wash or change her clothes voluntarily. She will often do her buttons up wrong or put her slippers on the wrong feet.  

Mum will voice, ‘In the war, we couldn't wash! If we did, we were only allowed five inches of bath water. So, don't flush the toilet!’ That is a constant rant of hers. 

Bananas are her favourite. They bring back a childhood memory of being given half a banana as you rarely had them in the war. How we today take life and things for granted!

Left image: Jacqueline with Audrey and her grandson; Right image: Audrey as a young woman

Jacqueline with her mum Audrey and son Alex

Channel 10 (ITV 3) is Mum’s safe, protective bubble. It shows all the old re-runs of things like Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Heartbeat, Darling Buds of May and Inspector Morse. I hope the channel never changes - Mum loves to reminisce.

When we put on normal channel 3 (ITV) to watch Coronation Street, Mum does not understand it. She recognises the theme tune. We have tried to explain that this is the new version but a couple of actors are now deceased. 

Inside I cry for Mum every day. I must not let her see my pain of helplessness. We need a cure for this disease as people only see the person’s outside persona, not the anguish inside them and their loving families.  

Thank you for reading. Love Jacqueline x   

 

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29 comments

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My mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s this year in July. I struggle with what this disease is doing to her. She laughs when we say she has ‘memory problems’ as she won’t accept she has dementia. I’m very sad for the future.

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3

Its nice to know but not nice to know that I am not the only one going through it with my Mum. This is such a cruel disease :(

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4

I first noticed my husband being forgetful around 10 years ago and our surgery had notices on the walls saying speak to your doctor about it, He did that and his doctor askedhim what age he was and whren my husband told him he was nearly 80 his reply was, "what do you expect", when my husband told me that I immediately changed his doctor and the new one was much more helpful. I still have him although his dementia or Altzeimers (never did know what to call it) is worse now but he is still here and can keep cheery.

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0

Thank you, we have had a diagnosis today and it feels god to put a name to it.
Sending good wishes and keep strong.

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2

Thank you for this. It helps... knowing that I’m not going through this alone...

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11

Same here. It’s good to connect with others going through the same. I think often people who haven’t experienced find it hard to really appreciate how difficult it can be mentally and emotionally. I’ve started caring my my mom as the care was just not sufficient anymore. It’s hard but I wouldn’t change it. Not unless I really feel I have no choice.
Thank you for sharing your story and thanks to everyone else for commenting xxx

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1
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