The end is nigh…

This last week I have been in Wellington in New Zealand, completely focused on learning about dementia. Whilst I’ve been here a lady called Dotty from the global dementia community who I had been following through her son Bob De Marco’s blog The Alzheimer’s Reading Room died. I cried, even though I did not know her; I felt the pain of a family losing someone they love, and had read almost daily of their struggles for some time. On Saturday late afternoon the nursing home where my father in law has been living for almost six months with advancing Lewy Bodies dementia rang to say he was very unwell, and as his medical directives state clearly he is not for resuscitation or interventions that prolong his life unnaturally, they wanted to move him to palliation care. Then later that night he rallied a little, but my dear husband flew home anyway at 6am yesterday, and by the time he went to visit, his father has deteriorated further, and has again since then. It seems, my father in law is dying and the end for him is nigh. Most of us have had someone we love get very sick, and then rally and live on for some time after. Some of us have been sick enough to have been told by specialists we had a limited time left to live. And yet many have lived on either getting well, going into remission, or proving the diagnosis to be wrong. But in my heart and soul, I do think this is my father in law’s time. It is sad for us, but not so sad for him. He has wanted to be with his wife (my mother in law) ever since she died almost seven years ago. He eventually lived quite well without her, but his heart was not in it. In some ways, we are not devastated as his life the last few months has been difficult and not at all meaningful. He has been strapped into a chair ‘for his own safety’ every single day. He has almost forgotten how to walk. He was having great difficulty swallowing, either because he had forgotten how, or because his swallowing reflex was so poor. He needed someone to feed him, bath him, and has been wearing adult nappies for some time. He was regularly saying he just wanted to die, and wanted to put himself out of this misery, but was lucid enough to know he was not capable of such an act. I have felt so very sad many of his other family and friends have not visited him. I suspect they will pay the emotional price of this inability to put someone they love ahead of themselves occasionally, and their inability to face up to his declining health. There is no doubt if their beloved animals were elderly and failing or just sick and dying, they would give them lots of attention, but an elderly parent or grandparent is so often forgotten or simply not made time for. Once again, I struggle to understand how humans offer such humanity to animals, but so often don’t for their beloved humans. I would recommend if you have a grey haired mum or dad, or sick friend or relative, one who you say means a lot to you, then spend time with them, don’t wait for their funeral. For the sake of our own souls, and for the humanity of our loved ones, I highly recommend putting aside your own fear of facing up to whatever they are going through, and showing them your love through your actions which also means giving them some of your time. My dear husband sat with his father for most of the afternoon yesterday and into the night, actively showing his love. He is my hero.

8 thoughts on “The end is nigh…

  1. Lovely post, Kate-i am very lucky that my Grandads friends(who are alive and well)visit him on a regular basis. Please don’t hold any anger on your father-in-laws friends who were unable to visit him for health reasons. I will have a sense of relief when my Grandad passes as he has been ill with dementia for too many years and his battle will be over and he is dementia free.

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  2. ok kate our prayers and thoughts are with both pete and you about your dad in law, will email you with more take care of you and yours to the moon and backxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  3. Sending you special caring thoughts at this time. Kate – you were inspirational at the NZ Alzeihmers conference and the only speaker to receive a standing ovation. Kia Kaha

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    • Hello Kate,
      Our depest Sympathy to you, your husband, and family.
      This morning my husband Ernie and I listened to you at a gathering in Papanui, Chrtistchurch NZ. What a lady, with so much courage; an inspiration you are to everyone. Please take care; I do hope you continue to inspire all who you come in contact. Regards. Mona & Ernie Cain NZ. ( I did speak to you aferwards.) Thank you.xoxo

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