My 84 year old mother has dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of conditions which cause changes and damage to the brain. This damage can affect memory, thinking, language and the ability to carry out everyday tasks. There are many conditions which cause dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause. Vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and Frontotemporal dementia are other causes.
In this first episode, I have a chat with my 84 year old mother who has vascular dementia. I begin by asking her if she knows what her name is and trying to ascertain whether she knows me or not. I deliberately try to keep the conversation light and funny and it seems to have worked. My mother always had a very mischievous side to her along with an amazing sense of humour and it was so lovely to see that she hadn’t lost that. That part of her was still in there and it just took a bit of digging and interaction to bring it out again.
This podcast was just a very small snippet of the full conversation which went on for 30 mins. We covered many more topics but particularly stories from her childhood: her three best friends, life at school and even her first love. One of the main reasons I decided to do this is because Dementia is a multi-faceted cognitive impairment that is usually progressive – in other words as each day passes she is slowly getting worse. She is less able to engage in everyday activities such as speaking, watching TV, grooming, preparing meals, and almost everything else. It is utterly heartbreaking. This is the first episode of ‘The Dementia Diaries’. It will not be the last. I hope to record as many conversations as I possibly can. Not only will these conversations be treasured and precious memories but they will also hopefully show the changes that occur to a loved one as this atrocious disease progresses and ravages her mind and spirit.