Dementia and a Strained Relationship

I can only imagine what people will think about what I am about to write. This is my blog though and my space for total honesty as promised from the start.

Often, with delicate subjects we choose to simply ignore them. Keep our eyes and ears closed so we don’t have to deal with them.

Dementia is one of those subjects.

I know, I know… This post is unusual and out-of-place on my blog, it’s not about anxiety or depression, or anything really relevant but there is reason for me sharing this story with you.

You will find out later on why but for now, to understand what comes next, this is my story and experience about dealing with dementia.

Now, if you haven’t read the ‘People You Should Meet’ page on my blog, then your probably not aware of the strained relationship I have with my Nan. See the thing is she has dementia and I love the person that she was, not the person that she currently is.

Awful, I know right.

But please, before you condemn me to hell for being such a heartless witch, let me explain.

See when I was younger, me and my Mum moved a lot and when I say a lot, I literally mean 8 times in the space of 5 years. When I was 12 we was granted a council flat, which was what we had been waiting for, for so long.

I remember thinking that we had finally got a home instead of just a house. I was so sure of it that I even decorated my room, choosing pink and purple instead of having the ‘compulsory-rented-house-cream’, because I would finally be able to have friends stay over and show off my new permanent bedroom!

A Permanent Bedroom

For once we would be in a stable housing situation with no more fears of being made homeless again.

Settled.
Content.
Home.

However, after just 6 months of being there my Grandad passed away and my Nan asked that we move in with her to keep her company.

At the time I wasn’t really bothered as I loved my Nan and Grandad’s house. Throughout my whole childhood it had been the only constant and solid thing I could rely on.

So we moved in.

My new bedroom was to be my Grandad’s old study, I painted it pink and purple again, quite easily accepting that it would now be my new permanent bedroom.

After living with my Nan for just over a year though things started to change.

My Nan started to change.

It started with her baking. She was renowned for her baking, and every other day there would be a new batch of cupcakes or a gorgeous Victoria Sponge for her friends, family and neighbours to devour. But over time the cakes started to taste bad and look awful, it got to the stage when they wouldn’t even set, and it was then that my Mother knew it was time to take her to the Doctors.

Nan was confirmed as having dementia.

There is no treatment or cure for dementia. It is a cruel condition that gets worse as time goes on.

So the mishaps continued, getting more frequent, and becoming more serious and dangerous.

In 2005 at the age of 14 I started to care for my Nan. It was simple things at first like making her dinner, checking her at regular intervals, making her tea throughout the day, keeping her company when she was lonely and turning the television over when she forgot how to use the remote.

Then the incontinence started and this is what I hated the most.

She became someone else and I started to resent her, even hate her.

I had never had the chance of a proper childhood and now my teenage years where being taken from me as well.

Life was so restricted. I was a carer, not barely a teenager yet never to be a teenager.

Restrictions Apply

Everything was planned around the care of my Nan.

It got to the stage, where I would come home from school to find she had, had an accident in the toilet, she didn’t know how to clean it up and in most cases had made the situation worse by walking it through the house and accidentally wiping it on anything she touched.

It made me sick.

My Mum told me that I should just leave it, stay in my room and she would do it when she got home from work, but how could anyone leave it? There’s no way any decent person could leave their Nan and their home in such a situation.

So I would clean. And clean. And clean.

I would bleach and sterilise everything, double checking every surface, cleaning until I felt all the germs had gone. Then I would ask my Nan to take a shower, making sure she was all clean and comfortable.

After everything was done I would then take a burning hot shower and scrub myself until I was red raw but most importantly, until I felt clean.

Burning Hot Cleanliness

In 2009 when I was nearing the end of College everything became too much and the start of my new life as ‘Panic Disordered’ started. I managed to finish college but any hope of going to University and getting away soon died with the frequent panic attacks and developing agoraphobia.

Restricted to being at home all the time I became my Nan’s main carer.

I just kind of got on with it. Living in a depressed repetitive bubble.

I left home in 2011 when I was 20, making the decision to move into a home of my own with my partner of 6 years.

When I did leave, my Nan went into a Nursing home as my Mum couldn’t cope with caring for her on her own. I feel incredible guilt for this.

In honesty I don’t visit my Nan often. I try not to. I don’t want to see her the way she is anymore. I cared for her for 6 years, seeing her slowly deteriorate and that was enough.

I love the person that she was, not the person that she currently is.

I hope this explains it.

 

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4 thoughts on “Dementia and a Strained Relationship

  1. Charlotte, you are a brave and inspiring person, and I fully understand your feelings and anger towards your Nan, hang in there girl. Xx

  2. I relate to this on a couple of different levels. I am really struggling with the concept of home lately. We moved a lot when I was growing up and as much as I am trying to avoid it, this pattern has followed me into my adult life. I want to paint. I want to create a home. But I know spaces are temporary so I never quite feel grounded. I am actually home from work and sobbing for this very reason today – I found out I am moving again at the end of this lease. I lost what I truly believed would be my home for a good long while.

    • Oh CityPanicked I am so sorry to hear that! Moving really is such a stressful time, I hope you manage to settle some day, some where. Maybe your next house will become your home? Fingers crossed and sending lots of love and support to you.
      Charlotte x

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