This blog is about my mum and her struggle with dementia (or, more accurately, my struggle with her dementia). If you have at some point searched the internet for “parents with dementia”, “grandparent with dementia” or “close acquaintance / family friend / some bloke I know with dementia” and found little that felt relevant, then this might be the place for you. If you’ve typed “My mum is demented” into a search engine and meant it in the literal sense (as opposed to your mum having just had a massive go at you because you hadn’t tidied your room / told her she looked nice / taken her shopping) then there may be something useful for you here.
The dearth of relevant, accessible internet chat about dementia seems totally out of keeping with the increased public recognition of the disease. Unless I’m just not looking hard enough – but who wants to look hard for this stuff when you’ve got so much else to worry about on a daily basis. I – vainly – just want to hear about somebody who is like me and how they are coping. I don’t want a spiritual experience; a cosy reflection on Pastor John’s sermon and how it was loosely relevant to Alzheimer’s (believe me – I just found one of those). I don’t want to be preached to or have the virtues of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s extolled to me by an evangelist. I just want a clear, perspective on how it feels to watch your parent lose their grip on reality without losing yours. And an acknowledgement that there are tiny moments of comedy to be found lurking in the mire of Alzheimer’s disease.
My sense of humour is already pretty dark. I’m a doctor by trade (a proper medical one by the way) which does help me understand some of the mechanics of the diseased brain but leaves me pretty helpless in the face of application forms for Personal Independence Payments. The hard outer shell that one develops as a practicing doctor, toughened by years of breaking bad news and watching bleak life stories unfold, has enabled me to find comedy in really quite inappropriate scenarios and believe me, that is the most useful skill I have in facing this disease.