There are currently an estimated 472,000 Australians with dementia. My father is one of them. Going into it, I knew it would be something of a rollercoaster, but nothing really prepares you for how erratic, demanding and wearying it really is to care for someone slowly losing pieces of themselves.
You expect memory loss, some anger issues, the slow fade. But it’s not a steady slide, and we’re still somewhere in the middle of that journey, where he is often too aware of what’s happening to him.
I wanted to capture it as it really is, and after a particularly hard week, a story about my dad and dementia poured out. It was almost fully formed, and I knew it needed an audience.
I had struggled to find anything but factual information on dealing with situation and my hope is this story connects with others who are on a similar journey with their loved one, so they know they’re not alone. Because caring for someone with dementia – even when they’re in care – is isolating. The mental gymnastics required each day often make you wonder if you’re still sane. And the popular images of dementia sufferers – forgetful, unable to remember their loved ones, sometimes manipulative – just don’t cut to the real truth.
My story, which I originally titled ‘Coaxing the sweet things’, has found a home on women’s media website Mamamia.
If you know someone going through it and think it might help them, please share. And if it’s you, firstly, I’m sorry for what you’re going through, and I hope it helps you a little.