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Autumn outings soothe mum’s dementia

This week’s storyteller is Hannah Davies.

Hannah shares how she’s learnt to embrace the changes in her mum’s health as her dementia progresses.

Autumn has arrived for my seaside town, and whilst we still get a sunshine filled morning or afternoon there’s no mistaking that the temperature is dropping along with the leaves.

I notice the change of seasons after I’ve gone out wearing clothes that are inappropriately flimsy, in much the same way as I notice changes in Mum’s dementia when an activity can no longer be undertaken as it has in the past.

Mum and I have always loved early morning walks together along the cliff tops or on the sandy beach. The first weekend after we moved Mum into her care home I picked her up as the sun was rising and we went out for a dawn stroll. That was two years ago almost to the day of me writing this.

I’ve tried to keep doing whatever I could do with Mum irrespective of whether she is living independently or with help, but I know that children of other residents in the care home find it difficult to see past the professionals and so step away from their own family rituals. That must be hard for everyone concerned.

Today having taken Mum to sit outside in a wheelchair as the beautiful Autumn leaves scatter around my feet in the way that flowers do in the springtime, I look at the beauty in Mum: her eyes still sparkling with mischief, her humour still raising her wide smile, and her softness as she holds my hand.

I want Mum to keep walking and not be sitting still all day but her body has a different need.

The physio has been giving us exercises to try to keep her leg muscles active and Mum’s balance in tact but sadly I have to admit that it’s time for me to stop with these activities before I cause her pain.

I try to embrace the wheelchair and that it still gives us access to some of what we have enjoyed together over the years. A steaming hot chocolate in a sunny spot is a memory I’ll treasure no matter how we travelled there.

Autumn can be sad when I think of it as the end of Summer, but I am learning to see it as a time of wonderful colour and to embrace the change. The pain in watching Mum fade away is only because of the huge love she has shown me over the years, so I am trying to reciprocate her love of me in each spoonful of porridge I feed her.

Withdrawing from Mum is not an option.

Some people remove themselves as their way to cope with the changes in their parents’ health but I have always been confrontational. I’m not sure how long this Autumn will last now Mum’s dementia has begun its next progression into her physical being, swallowing is proving troublesome at times too, but I shall find a way to enjoy it and for Mum to enjoy it too.

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