Relative values

Visiting relatives and friends with dementia is not for the fainthearted. Some cope by not visiting at all or come and pretend all is well, trying to drag their loved ones back into the normal world. So husband or wife says something odd and they contradict. W was asking his wife for some money for when he leaves and she says that he can’t leave and if he gets better, he can jolly well come home. She’s in denial about his mental and physical state. She tells him to get up and when he struggles, whacks him with her umbrella.

C’s husband comes every day, but leaves before meals when she refuses to eat. She whacked me with a cushion today twice, but not at all her fault.

D holds my hand and kisses it repeatedly. When her brother arrives, she clings to him and they spend the afternoon clutching each other. He sits there quietly weeping.

L comes and visits her mum sporadically,  trying to chivvy her back into her old self. It doesn’t work of course, just causes them both more distress.

Mum smiles broadly at me all day and tells me she feels the world is safe when I’m here. When I ask her how come, she shrugs her shoulders in the way only a French woman can and says, ‘it’s magic.’



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