Mum gives us cause for concern

Three weeks ago mum celebrated her 98th birthday. She was in fine form. The grandchildren came with their kids – her beloved babies. She was very happy to see everyone and, more to the point, remembered their visit.

Two weeks ago, I was up in London for a week full of get-togethers with my friends interspersed with visits to exhibitions. I was feeling quite like my old self. Then, the day before I was due to come back here, I got a call from A&E at the local hospital. ‘Do you know your mother is with us?’

No, I told him, I didn’t know. I learned that mum hadn’t been very well that weekend, muddled in the head and unsteady on her feet so the staff at the Care Home had moved her to a room closer to where the night staff sit. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night mum tried to get out of bed. She can’t stand without help and needs to hold onto something at all times, but it seems she had an infection which made her confused, perhaps she was dreaming she could walk or was dancing. At any event she came crashing down and smashed her head on the bedside table.

Initially, the hospital doctor said they were going to send her home that evening but, after an intervention by one of the physiotherapists and several more phone calls to me, they decided to keep her in for the night under observation. When I saw her the next day, I couldn’t believe they had even considered sending her home. She looked terrible, her face was purple and yellow with bruising and she was linked up to various monitors and intravenous drips. When I arrived, she was asleep and appeared to be in a sort of coma. They told me she’d had a bleed on the brain and a possible fracture in a neck vertebra. I really thought she was on her death bed. I texted my brother: You have to come ASAP!

Eventually mum woke up; they even got her to sit in a chair, but she was still very confused. She had no sense of her surroundings, had no idea she was in hospital and appeared to be in a time warp -worrying about events that happened 30 years ago.

The next day, when I went back, mum had been moved to an isolation ward because she’d had mild diarrhoea and been vomiting. Again, she was strapped up to machines and being dosed with intravenous antibiotics. It was a relief when my brother arrived, so I didn’t feel I had to bear all the responsibility. Mum was still very confused; she kept saying she wanted to lie down when she was already lying down. She kept trying to get up and out of bed when she was already in bed and indeed, had she managed to get up, she would have fallen again as she had no sense she might need some support to help her stand or walk.

The third day, mum was calmer and the infection seemed to be subsiding. She was, however, still convinced she had fallen in the street outside the house of her best friend – who she first met during the War. And perhaps mum was remembering something that really did happen at that time, but she had no recollection of the Care Home or of falling out of bed. When I said that was what had happened, she got quite upset and accused me of lying; nor would she accept that her best friend had been dead for many years. While I was sitting with her, two physiotherapists came and fitted her with a neck brace which she must wear for the next few weeks. They did say the bleeding on the brain had stopped and what had showed up on the scan might be the shadow of an old injury.

That evening they moved mum up to a general ward. When I got there on the 4th day, the nurse said they were sending her back to the Care Home that afternoon. This took me by surprise. I admit I was relieved. Not only because no one wants to stay in hospital any longer than they need to, but also because the round trip on the bus takes at least 3 hours. The weather is getting more seasonal, wet and windy while the sun sets at 4pm and with the dark comes increasing chill so the journey was exhausting me. However, I was genuinely amazed that mum was able to recover so quickly from what was a major incident and really impressed by her strength and resilience.

It’s now over a week since she was sent Home. She’s still very tired, still caught in a time warp of about 30 years ago. She’s very, very uncomfortable in the neck brace. Also, she still looks dreadful, her face is green, yellow and purple like a Frankenstein mask for Halloween. I’ve gone into the Care Home nearly every day to make sure she’s ok. This is much easier to do than get to the hospital, but I’ve also been trying to get everything ready for Xmas. Believe me, I’ll be very glad when everything’s been done. Of course, I’ll also be glad if mum does settle down. I trust the Care Home to look after her but she’s so miserable at the moment and I wonder if at her age she’ll have the stamina to properly recover. If she does, then I think there really is a chance she’ll make it to a 100 and get that telegram from the Queen – so I’d better prepare myself for having to live here for some time to come.

In the short term, I was concerned she’d be too frail to enjoy Xmas, not only because it’s Xmas but because the grandchildren were due to come on Boxing Day and she does love to see The Babies. I did not want to cancel their visit when, for all I knew, she’d be able to enjoy it. I held off posting this until I knew how it would go. In the event she was fine and able to enjoy seeing the children. She was due to see a pantomime last week which she would have thoroughly enjoyed but of course it was impossible for her to go. It’s such a shame she had this fall. I wish it hadn’t happened, but it did.

Best wishes to you all for 2019!





I understand a bit more about my mother.

Once, when we were chatting, mum spoke of how she used to have to go to the pub on a Friday night to get her father’s wages before he drank them all. I knew this story already, but this time I heard something new: our neighbours didn’t have that humiliation, mum told me, and their father was only a bus driver – while we came from Good Stock! All my life, I’ve heard her saying this sort of thing, and never picked up on it – but this time I stopped mum. I asked her what exactly she meant by this strange comment?

Her mother used to say it, apparently. But that was all mum really knew. She did, however, know that her mother had been partly brought up by her grandmother, that’s to say my mum’s great-grandmother, Mary. And that this Mary, who came from Cornwall, had been ‘a lady’. I myself knew that mum’s family, although poor, had considered themselves a cut above my father’s family who were rough and ready working-class cockneys. Nevertheless, they never had to go down the pub on a Friday night to stop their dad drinking away his wages!

I realised that, all through her childhood mum had been made to feel dissatisfied; as if, in some obscure fashion, she’d been robbed of her birth right. I remembered that mum and her sisters always felt cheated that they hadn’t had the benefit of a good education, or the social advantages they felt they should have had. So, as I haven’t been in the mood to do very much else, I started to do some research into mum’s family history.

What I’ve found out so far has been quite unexpected. I still don’t know how or why Mary travelled from Cornwall to London – which was quite a journey to undertake 200 years ago. But once in London, she does seem to have had a lot to do with a family whose surname is the same as her mother’s, so they could be her cousins. I hadn’t realised that this surname might possibly be aristocratic although apparently it can be, and I was surprised to see that, when this possible cousin, John Henry, signed the baptismal register for his eldest child, he revealed he had a string of middle names, all of them with aristocratic links.

My first reaction was that they must be a very junior branch of an ancient family and were trying to maintain their prestigious blood ties even though they weren’t particularly wealthy. Apart from the coincidence of the surname, I can’t as yet prove a direct link between the two families, but they do seem to be intertwined: as witnesses at weddings; as beneficiaries and also executors of wills; Mary’s husband is godfather to John Henry’s son; and, at different times, they all live at the same address in South London. First my great grandparents, then Mary and her second husband – then John Henry who dies there and his son takes over the address. Sadly, the house was bombed in the war and no longer exists, so I can’t take a look at it. The family connection continued to the next generation. Two of John Henry’s children were witnesses to the wedding of one of Mary’s daughters.

When she herself gets married, John Henry’s daughter lists her father’s full name and the string of names is even longer than I’d realised, perhaps because there was more space on the marriage certificate to list them all.  And all of them with the same aristocratic ring. However, by now it’s clear that the family have little or no money. And so, again, I feel this family are clutching at straws. They might not be well off – but they have Bloodlines!

Just like my grandmother. I know she inherited a couple of houses (worth a fortune at today’s prices!) a shop and a laundry, yet by the time my mother was growing up, they were poor. My grandmother had to go out to work as a cleaner and a cook. The businesses, the property all sold off – presumably because her husband was an alcoholic and a wastrel. But! She came from Good Stock! I started off mocking my mother for this claim; now I’m beginning to think there may be a grain of truth in it – a grain of truth that has blighted my mum’s life and stopped her appreciating all the good things she had, but which her mother brought her up to believe she was too good for.

I don’t mock people who held onto this lifeline. My generation had more opportunity to make their own way in the world. There are still class distinctions, of course, but there are more chances to get on – even if you don’t come from the ‘right’ family. But the fact is, I think my grandmother’s pretensions have blighted my mum’s life and I’ve begun to feel I understand her a bit better.


Mum thinks Dad is living upstairs in the Care Home

Mum keeps forgetting that my father is dead. In fact, she seems to think he’s living elsewhere in the Care Home.

Each time she’s reminded that he died several years ago, she becomes very upset. Initially, also found these conversations upsetting, but I’ve got used to them now. Whenever she sees me, the first thing she says is ‘Have you seen your father? I haven’t seen much of him lately.’

In a gentle voice, I remind her that he’s dead. ‘Dead!’ she cries in distress. ‘My Frank? When?’ I tell her it’s been over seven years. ‘That’s what they tell me here,’ she says. ‘But I didn’t realise.’ She asks if we’ve had the funeral? Yes, we have. I say ‘You went to the hospital. You said goodbye to him.’ But she can’t believe it. She starts to cry. ‘Have I been alone all this time? Have I been a widow for so long?’ Then she says ‘So, who’s that upstairs?’

I tell her she must see Dad in spirit; that perhaps, he does come to visit her, to make sure she’s all right. For all I know this could be true. On the other hand, it could be mum’s way of dealing with life in the Care Home, to stop herself feeling quite so alone there.

Usually, she calms down after a while. She’ll say ‘The mind is a strange thing. I’ve obviously blanked out the fact that Frank is dead. But he still feels close to me.’ And I say ‘Yes, you still hold him in your heart.’

She seems tranquil and lucid, accepting the situation. Trouble is, five minutes later, we can have the same conversation all over again. And she’ll get distressed, all over again. Recently, I had to tell her that my dad’s younger brother had died, and that I would be going to the funeral. Since then, Mum remembers that my uncle has gone. But she’ll ask ‘Does Frank know?’

I say that he probably does! I say, they’ll be together on the other side, with a third brother who died a long time ago. I say ‘Maybe they’re all having a chat and a laugh.’ And then she’ll say ‘Frank! Is my Frank dead?’ And so we re-enter the same sad loop. If possible, I try to change the subject, remind her of how much she enjoyed going to the Royal Wedding (!). That usually works, at least for a while.

Mum goes to the Royal Wedding!

I haven’t been in the mood to write my blog for quite a while, but I thought this might be just the story to get me back in the swing of things. The last few months have been hard. I’m still recovering from my surgery and mum is living in the Care Home. She desperately wants to come back and live in her Own Home although she accepts that, for now, she must stay where she is as I’m unable to look after her. However, a couple of weeks ago, something happened that really cheered her up. Yes! She went to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

How did this happen? Well, she left the Home and got on a bus and the bus took her right to the church. I asked, didn’t the security people try to stop you going in? No, they didn’t. She thought that was because she’s so old. ‘I sat at the back!’ she assured me, ‘and saw them all. They walked right past me.’ I asked if she thought this had been a dream, but she was quite certain that it had been real. I asked how she’d got back and she told me, she’d just got the bus again. A magic bus, that’s for sure!

Mum’s story continued: When she got back to the Home, she went into the dining room. Everyone was sitting down to lunch, so she just sat down with them, without telling them where she’d been. She giggled as she told me this, her face alight with happiness.

I thought perhaps she’d eventually realise that she’d imagined it all, but two weeks on she’s still convinced she went and is absolutely thrilled to think she was able to attend. So  now I just say, well mum, what a lovely memory for you!



Mum feels imprisoned

First of all, let me say it was worth taking the risk on mum’s birthday. She came back to the house. She saw the babies and the 2-year-old. Everything went well. The only glitch was when she was due to return to the Home. She was having a lovely time and had forgotten, of course, that she would need to leave. When I reminded her, she got upset, lashed out at me and my brother. She would never forgive us! We had lied to her! Etc etc. The same old accusations but when I’d worked so hard to make the event happen it was hard to keep calm while she screamed and shouted at me. However.

But as we thought, as soon as the Favourite Carer arrived, mum became more docile. It was now 5pm, cold and dark so mum accepted it was getting late for her to be out. Later on, the Carer told me mum had been upset in the car, but she had driven along the sea front to show mum the Christmas lights and that had cheered mum up.

The next day my brother visited her and she seemed fine. The day after I visited her and she seemed fine. She was pleased she had seen the babies – although at times I felt she remembered seeing the Xmas lights more than she remembered seeing the children! At any rate, she did not seem unsettled. She was looking forward to having a proper roast Christmas dinner at the Home – I don’t eat meat, so each year I’ve struggled to serve her such a traditional meal! In fact, all seemed to be going well – until this weekend.

I’d spent a couple of nights in London at a Xmas get-together with some friends. I’d intended to pop into see mum on my way home but I was too tired. Recently, I’ve had a problem with my left hip. It’s inflamed and makes me limp. While I’ve been waiting to have some treatment, my right hip began to play up and I was reduced to a painful hobble. I couldn’t face hobbling back from the Home while wheeling my small suitcase, so I left my visit to Sunday. I didn’t feel like visiting mum then either! It was bitterly cold, sleeting rain, squally winds – although no snow. the lack of buses meant I’d have to walk there and back and I could only hobble along at a slow pace. Dreadful. But, thank goodness, I did make the effort.

When I arrived, the staff member who opened the door looked very worried. She told me mum wasn’t in the lounge, as usual, but in her room. I was aghast. Mum never stays in her room. Was there something wrong? Nothing wrong with mum but the stairlift had broken down and mum was stuck upstairs. Oh, poor mum. She likes to be downstairs where all the action is, watching TV with other people, having carers going in and out. I found her all alone and very distressed. She was imprisoned! Trapped! How could I do this to her?

I was quite sure she did feel imprisoned and trapped. So, although she has a regular visit from the Favourite Carer on Mondays, I also went in the next day, in spite of the pouring icy rain and cold (at least on Mondays there are buses). Mum seemed a little better in her spirits. They had got her friend who lives across the landing to stay up there with her and they were watching TV together. But being stuck upstairs has unsettled mum much more than the family visit ever did. Once more she’s demanding To Go Home. Of course, as she can’t get down the stairs, she can’t actually go anywhere.

I’ve no doubt the staff in the Home are doing everything they can. They told me they tried – and failed – to get her down the stairs, and they are doing everything they can to get a mechanic for the stairlift. But for once, I’m upset as mum is: she feels cut off and isolated and, because of my hip it’s really painful for me to haul myself up and down the stairs to see her. Plus I’ve got so much to do for Christmas that it’s awkward for me to go in to visit her every day. I’ve now had an injection in my hip – it would be so nice if I could just rest and relax for a couple of days and let the treatment take effect but how can I? However today it’s clear I’ve caught a cold, probably from being out in the wet and freezing weather when I was tired and my resistance low, so in fact I have to stay at home as I’m now sick..

Did I really think life would get easier once mum was safely in a Care Home?

Below, mum cuddles her third great-grandchild on her 97th birthday!


We are going to take a risk.

I’m writing this a few days before mum’s 97th birthday. In the last few weeks, her two grandchildren have both had new babies. She’s convinced they belong to my brother and his partner, who are both in their 60’s, and needs to be reminded that the new babies are my brother’s grandchildren. He did once, it is true, have a little girl and boy, but now they are grown up and have started families of their own.

The young couples have offered to come and visit mum the weekend of her birthday. But two new-borns, a very active two-year old and seven adults can’t descend on the Care Home. They will have to come to the house.  If mum wants to see The New Babies and her much-loved Great-Granddaughter, which of course she does, she can also come to the house. But she has to understand that she can’t sleep here. She will have to go back to the Care Home. I have explained this to her, and sometimes she seems to understand and sometimes she doesn’t. So, what to do for the best?

I’ve discussed this with several people and most of them say it’s too risky. It will unsettle mum and she’ll get too upset. But I still think it’s worth the risk for her to see The New Babies, which she very much wants to do. A Carer who’s become like a family friend, takes mum out for a drive once a week. When I mentioned my dilemma to her, she immediately offered to pick mum up from the Home and bring her to the house, then collect mum at 5pm and return her to the Home.

This has actually been my main concern. Because the problem will be when it’s time for mum to leave. If the Carer comes, mum will hopefully go with her without too much fuss – whereas she’s quite likely to play us up and give us a hard time. And so, it’s been arranged.

Recently, one of my friends suggested a strategy they used with her own elderly mother: tell mum she has two homes now. Her Own Home is still here, and I am looking after it, but she can’t live there anymore. I am trying this approach, telling mum she’s going to visit her Own Home and see The Babies but, because she’s so old now (she does tend to forget just how old she is, bless her!) and needs so much looking after that she needs to live in the Care Home where she can be safe and cared for.

In a few days, we’ll find out whether we were right to take the risk! This morning mum did say she understood that The Babies couldn’t come to the Care Home but that she could see them, if she came to the house. Fingers crossed it will all work out well. I really hope it does.

I feel unexpectedly guilty

Moving Mum into the Care Home has been harder than I thought it would be.  She’s used to staying there when I’m not around so, while I was on holiday, everything was ok. But since I’ve been back, things have been very difficult. Mum really wants to Go Home. I understand that, and if there were any way that could be arranged, I would do it. But she can no longer look after herself – and I can no longer look after her.

Every time I see her, we have the same upsetting conversation. How I have to have an operation and need her to be safe and looked after in the Home. She insists that she could manage on her own and has to be reminded that she hasn’t done that for several years. Eventually, she accepts that there’s no alternative. But the problem is, she forgets the conversation. So next time I visit, we have to have the same conversation all over again.

She grasps at straws. Can she go and live with my Brother? I explain that, while she could go and live in a Care Home near him, it’s impossible for her to go and live in his house. I’ve been visiting her every two or three days (and have arranged for one of her former carers to visit twice a week on days I miss) but she forgets I’ve been in.  Last week my brother actually came for his first visit. Mum cried. She told us ‘I won’t make it if I have to stay here! Abandoned by my own children!’

She’s never been a particularly maternal type of mother. In fact, she’s often been hurtful and self-centred. But even so, such scenes tug at my heart strings. She’s 97 in three weeks, so she’s unlikely to go on for that much longer wherever she lives – but of course she’d like to spend her last years in her Own Home. But the only reason she’s been able to stay there as long as she has done, is because I gave up my life in London and moved down here. And yet I still feel tremendously guilty. I feel guilty towards the Ancestors: my father, my mother’s sisters. I feel like I need them to forgive me for putting mum in the Home.

After three years of full time care-giving, I was struggling and overwhelmed. The work was unrelenting, the stress enormous. I’d developed my own health problems. I’m sure the Ancestors know this! But even so I still feel bad.

Up till now, it’s been me who made the sacrifices; it was me who gave up my home to look after mum. I didn’t think of it in that way because I didn’t think I had any choice. Now I don’t think I have any choice but to settle her in the Care Home. So I really did not expect to feel soooo guilty!

On the other hand, I did have a really great holiday in Crete and Santorini so I am feeling a lot better than I was before I went!


Mum leaves home

I’ve been waiting for a permanent room to come up at the Care Home mum likes. Essentially, I’ve been waiting for someone to die, which is a bit weird, but it was the only thing to do. About a month ago, the owner of the Care Home – or the Missus, as mum calls her – told me a resident had been taken ill and wasn’t expected to survive. But that old lady proved to be tougher than everyone expected, and she regained her health. Then another resident was taken into hospital but, as I said to Brother – I’m about to go on holiday. I can’t risk being stuck with nowhere for mum to go.  What if this second old lady also proves tougher than they thought? And indeed, I didn’t want to wish her ill just for my convenience.

And so, I found a respite room for mum at an alternative Care Home. But the truth is, mum’s needs have become such that I’d been counting on her moving permanently into the Home before I went away. Now I took a deep breath and came to terms with the fact that it wasn’t going to happen. I really did not know how I would cope. Mum is getting so frail, it’s terrifying each time she stands up and goes to the bathroom. I can no longer get her in and out of the house without a second able-bodied person to help – and I’ve recently lost both of the main carers who I relied on to support me, let alone mum! Plus, I have a hospital appointment to start my treatment in early November so I really did need to find a place for mum during October. I consoled myself that by then there might be a place at the favourite Home. But the fact is, I was beginning to despair.

At this point, I had a call from a woman on the Carer’s Support Team. She’d come round to see me a few weeks previously and had ended up giving me an hour’s counselling session, which she must have thought I needed. And perhaps I did. Anyway, she rang to check on my mental health. I admitted I was pretty down. I’d so hoped to get mum settled before my holiday. Now I was faced with finding a place for her before the hospital appointment. She offered to help me do that, which I really appreciated. So different from the bureaucrat I spoke to before. None of this ‘oh you can manage with extra help from the Care Agency’. No. She agreed. ‘You need to find a safe place for your mum as soon as possible.’ So that was a load off my mind.

Then, at the eleventh hour the Missus rang. There was a permanent room for mum after all. It would be ready the day before I needed to leave. I didn’t even feel excited, I felt numb, I didn’t dare allow myself to relax or I’d have to admit just how hard and dreadful it’s been the last few months. I understand it’s a sad thing for mum to leave home. I expect there’ll be some hiccups. I’ve had several serious conversations with her about how things can’t carry on as they are, but then she forgets what I told her. However. Last week, she moved. I was in such a state myself, I had to go back twice with things she needs but I’d forgotten to pack. The next day I went to London to stay with friends, and then on to see some more friends in Paris, and I forgot to do all sorts of things before I left. I did one thing in particular that was so dumb I can’t believe I actually did it. However, it seems that I did.

I guess I’ll slowly unwind and come to my senses. I still can’t believe it has really happened, keep worrying things will go wrong. I do so hope mum will settle happily in the Home because I’m really worn out. On the plus side, I’m going On Holiday tomorrow! I hope it’ll be fun. I really do need to recuperate!

Mum has a holiday

Mum really wanted to visit my brother’s new home in Somerset. Because it would probably be the last holiday she ever had, we discussed how it could be arranged. The first hurdle was the 2 ½ hour drive to where my niece lives. Mum made the journey last year for niece’s wedding, and stayed quite happily in a Care Home round the corner from niece’s home. Now mum is a year older and much frailer – but, keeping my fingers crossed, I booked a car and a driver and we made it that far. Mum then spent two days resting. She was visited by my niece, who’s heavily pregnant with her second baby, and Great-Granddaughter – who really is the only person mum cares about these days.

Niece and her hubby put me up, which was very kind of them because, what with the advanced pregnancy and the demanding two-year-old, this young couple already have quite a lot on their plate. But I did need to be nearby. Mum had a bit of a meltdown the first evening. The Home rang me and I had to walk round and reassure her, but basically all went well.

Brother lives another hour’s drive to the north. Saturday morning, he came and picked us up. He’d found a very nice Care Home close to his house, with a view of the sea from the garden. It seemed a nice place, lots of ladies to chat to in the lounge and mum settled in happily enough. Brother also arranged to borrow a wheelchair – which made things much easier for moving mum around.

On the Sunday, mum was taken to visit my brother’s new place. Originally, he’d said she would not be able to get over the threshold, but eventually he worked out she could enter through the garage, in the wheelchair. My niece, her hubby – and Great-Granddaughter obviously – and my nephew with his wife who’s 7 months pregnant – all arrived for lunch. It’s unlikely mum will see either of these expected babies for a while, so at least she’s met them in utero as it were.  And we had what may well be one of the last family gatherings. Then, on Monday, Brother gave me a lift to Glastonbury where I spent 3 days on my own, thinking things through while he and his partner took mum round to various places she wanted to visit along the north Somerset coast. She was particularly keen to go to Weston-Super-Mare. We think she went there with my dad when he was in the army, but we’re not completely sure.

Then he drove mum back to the Care Home around the corner from my niece. I got back there the next day. Mum seemed fine. My niece had been to visit her that morning with Great-Granddaughter, and we would be going home the next day. We were just sitting down to dinner when my mobile rang. Mum was freaking out, as only she can. Where was I? She was waiting for someone to come and look after her! No one was looking after her! She’d been abandoned! She was disgusted! Disgusted! Etc. Etc.

I trudged back up to the Care Home. The carer was very upset by mum’s outburst. I think the problem was there was no one to chat to in the tv lounge so mum felt lonely and bereft. She wanted to come back to my niece’s house. But that was impossible. It really is not old-lady-proof. There’s nowhere she could sit; the entrance is narrow with high steps. And there was no wheelchair available. And no one to push it if there were.

They are looking after You! Look how upset they are! You need to rest, before the long journey tomorrow! And you saw Great-Granddaughter this morning! And anyway, She’s already been put to bed!

Eventually, I got mum settled and we had our dinner. After this outburst, I was dreading the final drive home but it went ok. The traffic was heavy, as it was a Friday afternoon in the summer holiday period and the journey took longer than usual, but the driver dealt with mum well. To avoid the traffic, he took us on a roundabout route through some lovely landscape, and quaint little villages. This scenic drive has really stayed in mum’s mind. And, although Mum has been tired and fractious since we got back, she does seem to have enjoyed her holiday – and to have remembered most of it! Which is the main thing. Now, I’m just counting the days till my own holiday. I just hope I can last out till then!!


Mum fails (or passes?) a test

A couple of years ago, I tried to get mum a clinical diagnosis of dementia. But although the Doc agreed there were issues with her short-term memory, they would not agree to give her a formal diagnosis. As I live with her full time, I felt they’d made a mistake, but there was nothing to be done.

After my recent brush with the bureaucrat, I realised a firm diagnosis would be helpful when I next had to deal with the bureaucracy, so I asked them to test mum again. This time, her results were greatly improved – at least from my point of view. Some might say she’s deteriorated. Her score had dropped sufficiently for them to decide (taking all other factors into account) that they’d give her the diagnosis without the need of a brain scan. (Thank goodness for that!) And mum is going downhill quite rapidly. She’s increasingly confused, losing words, forgetting names, getting muddled about the time of day. She can no longer work out how to switch on the tv, and has to be instructed on what to do during her trips to the toilet.

Sometimes though, especially when she wakes from a nap, her face is lit with a beatific smile, as if she’s stoned or she’s been in another dimension and is now surprised to find herself here, in this mundane world of material reality.

Whatever the Social Services might claim, it’s just not safe for us here anymore. Mum’s getting more and more unsteady. In fact, she had another fall the week before last, again on the steps coming up into the house from the conservatory. This time she was on the bottom step, so she just tipped back onto the carpeted floor. I was behind her once again, and once again cushioned her fall, altho I didn’t have to take her weight and manoeuvre her into a safe position like the last time. This time, I just stressed my neck, my back (once again), my knee (where I had an operation 20 years ago), and some general muscle ache around the ribs. Luckily, my brother came that weekend. Having a couple of days off helped me to recover – as did having a very nice time with friends in London!

I feel mean, but I’ve banned mum from the conservatory, where she likes to sit because it looks out over the garden. I’m terrified that, in the time left before we find a permanent place for her in a care home, mum’ll have another fall and this time it’ll be catastrophic – either for her or for me. Every moment she spends on her feet, I worry.

I especially don’t want her to injure herself before she goes on holiday! Yes! We’re planning to try and get mum down to Somerset for a week. She’s long expressed a wish to see my brother’s new house and to return to an area where she has fond memories of a holiday with dad. It’s taken quite a bit of arranging, but it has been arranged. I really hope it will all go smoothly and that the journey won’t be too much for her. We leave tomorrow. Watch this space, as they say!!