To quote the Marx Brothers (I think) “If you had a brain you’d be dangerous”.
Well today we find out, well not exactly, just the state that mum’s brain is in. MRI scan (or CT scan) to see if there is any change from about 18 months ago and therefore hopefully receive a formal diagnosis. Does mum have dementia, if so which one.
Its a strange nervous feeling I have this morning. We have been living with mum for 9 months, and dealing with a change in her health for over a year. All the signs and behaviour seem to support some degree of dementia. Short term memory loss being the most obvious. She can remember being strafed by a Messerschmitt during the war, but we have to leave A4 laminated cards with the days of the week out so she knows what day it is.
For mum the “D” word was something she didn’t want to discuss and probably except. I remember watching a documentary with mum that Angela Rippon had done for the BBC “The Truth About Dementia” and mum just coming out with the statement “you don’t think I have dementia do you”? This was in June and mum was basically saying she didn’t think she had a problem.
Two months later she was agreeing that her memory wasn’t as good as it was and that she could see she had a problem. Admitting it to herself, meant she could say it to the GP, which has led to the scan appointment today.
Whilst it cant be very nice for mum, its also a huge step for me and Sonia. For over 12 months we’ve been caring for mum, pretty much 24/7. Whilst we may not be present 24/7, we worry about the situation when we are not there. Has mum fallen over, has she had an accident in the toilet and not able to see to clean it up, etc etc.
To receive a formal diagnosis will actually be a partial load off our minds. To be told yes she has dementia (vascular, Alzheimer’s, DLB, mixed or MCI) means we have something to understand. Something to research, something to request support for. There are lots of support agencies, groups etc. but they tend to require a formal diagnosis before gaining full access to the services.
Understanding also allows us to plan as a family. Will mum’s memory get worse, what are the timelines, will other behavioural changes occur, what care needs will develop etc. Living with someone with a medical condition, but not knowing what it is, adds a degree of stress to the situation. Hopefully after today we will have some clarity.
The awful thing to say on this however is that mum may not have dementia which obviously would be good news as I would not wish it on anyone. The downside of this diagnosis means that mum is just getting old, she will always be stubborn, cantankerous and difficult at time because she can.
But then living through WWII, bringing 4 kids up, supporting us through our difficult times and providing a loving family environment means she can be all those things. We will at least know why.