It has been nearly a year since my last post and I feel a bit guilty about that. But today is a significant anniversary and I think deserves a special mention here. It is now 3 years since my wife was admitted to an aged care facility and it is perhaps a good time to look back over that time and see what I have learned from this situation.
It is 10 years since I noticed that my wife was having problems with remembering how to do some of the everyday tasks that we all have to do. She showed an unwillingness to make telephone calls or even answer the phone when it rang. Over a sort period of time this non participation was expanded to not knowing how to operate the remote control for the television, not adding sufficient detergent to the washing machine when doing the laundry, and quite a few other actions which had been routine for her over our many years together. Over the next few years she developed two or three compulsive behaviours such as taking a box of tissues and taking each tissue out one after the other until she had little piles of tissues on the table beside her. Another one was to make little rolls of toilet paper from a large roll and leave them around our home. Somewhere along the way she became quite argumentative and no amount of logical reasoning could make her change her opinion on any particular topic. It was only later that I learned not to argue but to accept what she was saying, and then divert her attention to something else.
As the years passed by she became aware that she couldn’t cope with everyday life in the same way as she used to be able. The first big step was for her to accept that she needed help. That came in the form of an assessment called the MMSE (Mini Mental State Examination) which was conducted in October 2011.
This test confirmed that she had dementia and I was put in contact with various services that could provide help and advice. A year later she had deteriorated to the stage where she need assistance with personal care and dressing. At this point it was necessary to get an assessment for placement in an aged care facility (ACF). This was obtained in September 2012. More services became available to help with her care at this time.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post it is now 3 years since she first entered an ACF. At that time she was still able to speak, even if the some of the words were made up words, continent, ambulant and able to feed herself. When I visited I would always take her for a walk around the ACF, and we would have afternoon tea together. She is now in the advanced stage of the illness. My wife’s condition is that she is non-verbal, incontinent, immobile and needs assistance with all aspects of daily living. That includes showering, toiletting, dressing and feeding. She spends her days in a princess chair, which is a reclining arm-chair on wheels. Quite often I get no sign of recognition from her when I visit.
In these days when we read of aged persons in care sometimes being abused by a carer, I must say very clearly that I am very grateful for the standard care provided to her by the staff at her ACF. I am confident that she will continue to receive the same quality care for as long as she has the need.