Here is a story about how my elderly care consultancy, Relative Matters, helped two sisters care for their elderly mother who was living with dementia, at home.
Emma and Ruth’s Story
Emma had been concerned about her mother Martha for a while, because she had been showing signs of dementia, such as repeating questions to Emma and becoming confused when she carried out basic tasks like preparing scrambled eggs or heating a pizza. Eventually Martha was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.
At first Emma and her sister Ruth, took turns to stay with their mother but soon found they could not keep it up. We found a small day centre not far away, which specialised in looking after people with dementia, so Emma arranged for her mother to attend, five days a week. This enabled Emma to continue her career as a physiotherapist and her sister to spend more time looking after her husband, who recently had a stroke. We pointed out to Emma and Ruth that when Martha attended the day centre, she would be kept safe, socially stimulated, receive nourishing food and regular drinks.
As their mother’s disease progressed, we helped Emma and her sister to claim the higher rate Attendance Allowance and arrange for regular carers from an agency to provide care and support for their mother before and after she attended the day centre.
To help provide consistency, we advised Emma and Ruth to set up a Care Journal for their mother. Whoever was with Martha, would record the important details of their shift, such as food eaten, fluids consumed, bowel and bladder movements, activities accomplished and other relevant information.
Emma, Ruth and the care workers became proficient at using the hospital bed and hoist provided by the district nurse, a wheelchair, wheelchair ramps and a food processor to prepare easy to chew, soft food as Martha had chosen not to wear her dentures. We suggested Emma and Ruth arrange for Meals on Wheels to be delivered on a Saturday to give them a break from preparing food and free up time to take their mother out.
When their mother became ill with pneumonia, Emma took special leave from work and moved in to look after her. During Martha’s last forty-eight hours of life, she was loved and comforted by Emma and Ruth, attended by the district nurse and heard her son’s voice over the phone, all the way from Australia.