Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Worrying about my parents for a change!

So... I remarked to my best friend the other day, we are in a kind of honeymoon state, kids are neither toddlers nor teenagers, and parents are not that elderly (yet).

I didn't mention, although it's in the back of my mind, that my mum has had a spate of forgetting things lately, and my Dad got angry with her the other day for messing up his plans by telling somebody the opposite of what was supposed to be happening. He told her he was getting worried about her and if she didn't improve he was sending her to the Dr!

Today, I saw her briefly, and she was really anxious because she had lost her reading glasses. Not as in simply misplaced, she remembers wearing them, and has no memory of taking them off, and they appear to be nowhere in the house.

I should perhaps explain the background to this, which is that my parents don't do emotion. I haven't seen my Dad angry for 25 years (coincidentally since I was a teenager!) and I rarely see my mother express any emotion other than mild irritation, even though she has her 17-year old granddaughter living in the house, and my sister (with the major mental health problems) is there more often than not. Seeing them both upset to that degree is very unusual.

 My mum is usually sharp as a tack, she obtained a first class honours Maths degree through OU while she had 3 kids under 5, and has always retained that analytical ability. I know that they are both aware of the implications, they have lots of friends, who have suffered the usual round of age-related illness, including dementia.  I'm sure they don't want to actually acknowledge it and are busy pretending my Dad's outburst last week never happened. I'm also sure my mum just needs me to tell her that this is just a normal part of aging.

I did some reading about dementia last week, because I am now officially the Family Healthcare Professional. Forgetting stuff like glasses is a normal part of aging, frustrating as it may be for my totally and utterly organised and together mother. But if they turn up in the fridge, and she starts mixing her words up, and struggling to do her Sudoku 3 x faster than Dad, then we need to worry.

However, on the NHS site, they say that being anxious about memory loss is an indicator for a visit to the GP. So that means I need to have a chat with them both, probably soon, to see if they think that that's where we're at. Probably separate chats. I did start to have a heart to heart with Mum yesterday, but my sister turned up uninvited and joined in. That's what family's for!

This isn't a conversation I want to have, the implications are huge, Mum holds everything together, like all Mums, but more so, as she's primary carer for my sister and her daughter. Having said that, my sister is finally medicated and acting totally normal, and her daughter is 17 and thinking about applying to University. I don't call on my Mum for support, except the usual chit-chat, which goes both ways. But the idea of needing to be on hand to help her out is kind of nice. I owe her loads, her calmness in a crisis has always been an inspiration! Having spent some time now nursing elderly folk in my general placement, that doesn't freak me out any more.

No idea where any of this is going, as always, no crystal ball on hand. This is part of the journey I suppose, just need to keep on keeping on.

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