The following was written by Elsie van Douwe, sharing her experience with caring for a family member suffering from dementia.
“Dementia is a disease that takes away your dignity. It takes away your ability to be who you used to be. You lose your character and integrity. You become unable to do what you used to do for yourself and your family.
It starts slowly, making you miserable and unhappy, seeing fault in almost everything and accusing people of stealing from you because you forget where you have placed things, like money, clothing, and food.
You become a stranger to your children, family and friends.
We were brought up by a beautiful woman, who knew her standards and almost looked like a model when she was middle-aged. A mother who taught her children manners and disciplined them in an orderly manner.
Around 1999 our mother became a stranger to us. She would shout and swear at us.
Things she never did when she was raising us. If we would swear or be disrespectful to anyone she would give us a good hiding. We learned from her how to bring up our own children.
When dementia slowly started taking our mother from us, we did not know what it was as it slowly changed her behaviour. It was only around 2016 when it emerged from its hiding place and we realised what was wrong with her.
Dementia started showing itself by causing our mom to forget our names and where she was. She started becoming violent and packing her bags, saying she was going to her house. If anyone told her “but this is your house” she would be very disturbed, become aggressive and start to cry.
There is much, much more that I can tell you about dementia, but I rather want to say to everyone:
Please, if you see your mom or dad or anyone in the family starting to behave differently – do not take them for granted. Take them to a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Please be patient and do not mistreat them – take extra good care of them, because they become like little children. They will have to rely on family members to take care of them 24/7.
I say this because our mom was totally dependent on the family to take care of her all the time – she could do almost nothing for herself and finally, the day came when we had to take her to the hospital when she struggled to eat. She was only there for a short time when God called her home and ended her suffering.
I want to say: Families – please take care of each other – children love your parents – no matter what happens.
Signs of Dementia:
Loss of memory
Unable to comprehend things and being confused
Asking the same questions over and over
Unable to care for themselves
Finally – we think the Health Department should assist with educating people about dementia and how to take care of those who have it. Seminars are needed.
I would also like to start a campaign to bring about better knowledge and awareness of dementia.
We would like to ask those who are living with family members or parents who have dementia to tell us what they are experiencing because I believe that everyone has a different story to tell.”
Please contact Elsie van Douwe – 0822282580 or email@example.com