As we approach Mother’s Day here in the UK, we’re busily selecting appropriate cards and bouquets and possibly planning little treats for our mothers, perhaps pausing to recall a few treasured childhood memories along the way.
We always invite my mother and mother-in-law for a meal on Mothering Sunday as well as presenting them with small gifts, this year being no exception.
However, when I asked my mum a couple of weeks ago whether she would like to come for Sunday Lunch on the allotted day, we had rather a different kind of conversation. We covered all the usual ground about when the date was, what time she would come, that yes we would be picking her up and so on, but her burning question was, “Do I need to buy something for my mum?” Followed some moments later by, “Do I have a mum?”
You see my mum is in her eighties and has dementia. Some days our conversations run smoothly, other times they’re fraught with heartrending questions and difficult explanations, but we get through.
Diagnosed a couple of years ago after rather a battle for a referral to a memory clinic, mum’s decline has been thankfully slowed down by medication and some input from the clinic. Although there are obviously still some tough times that can be distressing for us all.
But what has been a big help is the opening of a day centre for dementia sufferers just around the corner from where my mother lives, which is run by Age UK. After initial reluctance, counteracted by constant encouragement, my mum started to attend the centre last summer. In no time at all she began to really enjoy her weekly visit and it has improved her mental state somewhat too. On her most recent dementia check, her score had actually improved – the additional stimulation has certainly proved good for her.
Each week, mum looks forward to a chat with others who in her own words, “Are just like me so I don’t feel silly”, the opportunity to take part in activities and a freshly cooked lunch. It’s been really good for her.
To others with relatives suffering from dementia I would say do encourage them to attend a similar centre if there is one nearby. The effects can be very beneficial.
To read more about Age UK or offer your support, visit www.ageuk.org.uk