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Living with Alzheimers – A Daughter’s Story

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Posted on 20th April 2011.

20 April 2011

Living with Alzheimers – A Daughters Story

We have just celebrated mother’s day, so naturally all our thoughts turned to our mums and how best to spend the day making them feel special. Many of us may have cooked a Sunday roast, bought flowers or taken them out for the day?

But what if your mum has alzheimer’s and needs full time care?

I spoke to Kate, one of many people who chose live-in care as a solution for their loved one. Kate’s mum Betty has been receiving Live-in care since 2010, due to the onset of Alzheimer’s. Betty’s carer Doreen has built a special relationship with Betty and is now considered one of the family.

Tell me the journey you went through up to the point of your mother needing permanent care?

Since our father died in 2005 mum has lived on her own. It was a difficult adjustment at first because like all her peers she had gone from living at home to being married and had never lived alone. However she did lots of things with the church and we all visited frequently. Then she began to show the early signs of Alzheimer’s which both her mother had and sister suffers from. 18 months ago she received a firm diagnosis and by this time was forgetting things more frequently and had support from her local authority carer’s service. We knew that the condition could only progress in one direction

What made you think of live-in care?

Mum was adamant she did not want to leave her own home. At this stage I saw an advert for Live-in Care in Good Housekeeping magazine and shortly afterwards read about live-in care in a newspaper.

What were your first impressions of Helping Hands and how comfortable were you with the process?

At each point of contact Helping Hands has been incredibly kind and supportive but also totally professional. We went from initial contact to having a carer with Mum in 2 weeks as we needed somebody there when she was discharged from hospital. The process was polished and professional with Mums needs being paramount. When Helping Hands came to assess Mum she was wonderful – she basically sat down in the hospital and had a chat with her. Mum didn’t feel she needed

What is most important to you, in your mother in receiving care?

Neither I nor my siblings can be with Mum as often as we would like as we all live some distance away from her. With a live-in carer we know somebody is constantly caring for her and it is 1:1 care unlike in a residential home.

Tell me about the carer

Doreen is wonderful. When she first met Mum they hugged and she looked into her eyes whilst explaining that she was coming to look after her. Doreen has a lot of patience but also a great sense of humour. She really cares for Mum and when she takes her breaks she calls us to check that Mum is OK.

What sort of things does your mother and the carer do together?

Mum is a committed Christian, a faith that Doreen shares. They go to church together and pray before bedtime. Doreen gets her to play the piano for her and to help in the kitchen so that she keeps her brain working. Doreen i has also got to know the neighbours who also think she is wonderful.

What difference has it made to you ?

Having Doreen living with Mum has taken away a lot of the worries that we had when she lived alone. We know she is being well cared for. It has also meant that we don’t need to phone 4 or 5 times a day – it is just 1 now. Also, previously when we went to visit, we spent most of the time doing jobs around the house – now we can enjoy the time with Mum.

Our care manager is always there if we need her and she is very professional, friendly and approachable. She has made a visit to Mums to introduce herself. Details of relief carers for Doreen’s holidays are sent to us for approval beforehand.

What would you say to anybody looking at their permanent care options?

Permanent live-in care is not the cheapest option but is the one that I suspect most old people would choose. It is 1:1 care which you could not get anywhere else. We thought that there would be lots of requirements for the house but there were only a few. I thought that it would be an option that was far out of our price range, but I was wrong. Our thoughts were to try it to see if it can work – you always have the option then of going to residential care if needed but can’t do it the other way around. I cannot say how pleased we are that we tried it – you only have to see Mum and Doreen laughing together to see what a success it is.

Anything else you would like to share ?

Two elderly relatives on my husband’s side have already told us that this service is what they want if care becomes necessary as they are so impressed. Doreen now feels like part of our extended family. At Christmas she was playing on the Wii with my sons, who think she is great, whilst Mum was sat laughing.

It is just so lovely that on Mother’s day we all sat down together for dinner and enjoyed each others company.

Sally Tomkotowicz