Give dementia parity with other medical conditions
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Our 89 year old mother suffers from vascular dementia, a real physical condition which can only get worse. Until last year she lived at home with support from her family, carers, neighbours and a local day centre. She paid for her care because her savings were, "over the threshold." Most of these savings came from compensation paid to Mam for our Dad's early death caused by working down coal mines. He started at the pit aged 14 and stayed his whole life, except for serving his country in the army during the war years.
After a hospital admission the family was told that Mam was unable to look after herself and should go into a care home. We knew Mam had always said she wanted to die in her own home but she had become incontinent, could no longer feed, wash or dress herself and only ate when directed to do so.Worst of all were the terrifying hallucinations Mam suffered both day and night. Mam was at great risk because she wandered from home, switched off the heating in the coldest weather and turned on the oven and hob without any understanding of what she was doing.
The family had no option but to agree that Mam needed full time care and were given the impression that this would be partly funded by continuing health care but that Mam would continue to pay towards her care.
Mam is in the dementia unit of a local care home. Her physical needs are largely met but her mental health needs mainly ignored. Those responsible for her care have had a deprivation of liberty order placed on her, suggesting they are aware of the risks she poses to herself and others. Insufficient staffing means Mam only has access to fresh air when family members take her into the garden.
Mam pays the full cost of her care, this is a huge sum. Her savings are gone and the house sold to pay for care. The NHS won't even pay for incontinence pants only pads. Mam won't tolerate pads as she thinks they are nappies.
Dementia is cruel, Mam's whole life has been about children, now she spends her days nursing two baby dolls she thinks are her own real babies. It is hard to see your strong, independent, sensible mother in this condition. It is worse knowing you have gone against all your parents' wishes by selling the home they worked so hard for.
Mam and Dad were decent, hard working people. They wanted their six children and 12 grandchildren to benefit from their frugality.
The NHS should give dementia parity with other conditions. Dementia patients should have daily access to general nursing care to monitor their physical state as they can no communicate needs. Mental health/psychiatric care should be constantly available.
Our mother and others like her in the later stages of dementia deserve this.
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