Before It’s Too Late

Sadly it has become apparent that dementia is in our family genes.  My great grandmother had it and then her daughter, my much loved Nana. My Nana was a hard working woman who worked full time until she retired at 60.  Her whole life was family orientated and she never spent a day away from her husband until he died aged 78 from cancer.  Her family including her two daughters and her grandchildren were all she lived for. Being the only granddaughter I was always very close to my Nana.  Often I spent my school holidays with her in Linwood.  Now a woman in my 40s I still spent time with her, taking her shopping and spending time with my children.  Sadly after losing her husband it became clear to me that something was not quite right.  What had been a very capable lady, now struggled to understand things like basic correspondence.  I noticed that she did not seem to be eating property and once even caught her trying to fry cold meat and for someone who was once a cook in Babcock Canteen in it’s hay day in the 70s and 80s this was worrying. Often when I visited her she would repeat things that she had previously told me, she would constantly losing things and sometimes just seemed to be genuinely confused by life.  I discussed this with my mother and my aunt and they, for a long time, I suppose not wanting to accept what was going to be inevitable, put it down to the strain of her losing her life long partner.  To let you understand they seen their own grandmother suffer dementia and whose end of life care was not the best being a long time ago. After working in the legal profession for over 20 years I knew that I would have to have the chat about Power of Attorney sooner rather than later and how this would benefit both Nana and them.  Fortunately they all agreed that this was the best route forward and I arranged for a home visit to get matters finalised.  She did not even have to pay since she qualified for Legal Aid which she was surprised and delighted about.  I genuinely feel that my Nana was relieved after this was in place as she knew that whatever her fate was, her daughters would play a large part in the decision making thereof. Sadly, very shortly after the Power of Attorney was arranged, my Nana suffered a series of small strokes and was found wandering in the street at 11 pm in her night clothes.  She was admitted to Stirling Royal Infirmary and diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. During her time in hospital my mother and aunt were able to inspect a number of nursing homes and make a decision as to where my nana would now reside.  She did so in a care home chosen by them for 2 years happily in her environment and even in her rare lucid moments she acknowledged that she was in the right place for her.  We all made sure she had a visitor every day and with the nursing team made decisions regarding medication, care, activities etc. I would like to think that she had some form of enjoyment out of the last few years since my mother and aunt were heavily involved as Attorneys.  It also took away the additional stress that would have occurred about her finances since they were able to handle those on her behalf too. The importance of Power of Attorney is extremely underestimated in my view and all too often it’s value only realised when sadly it is too late.  Often when speaking to people about it the common response is “Oh I am not at that stage yet”.  Little to folk realise that when they are it’s too late. Vivienne Malcolm, Caesar & Howie