• Focus on what’s happening to you in this moment 24 September 2018 | View comments

  • 24th September 2018 | By David Jolley

    Saturday morning is time to check what is about to happen in the world of football. My Wolves were to be playing Manchester United as they get to grips with life in the Premier League with a team that is better than any they have had since the 1950s. I almost missed the article by Damien Whitmore: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/sep/21/damien-whitmore-i-would-find-mum-crying-and-repeating-i-dont-know-who-i-am

    It is an everyday story of life with dementia, by told by someone who is famous in his own right and is prepared to share some very personal stories and feelings with others. We have heard of the frustrations people have with the poverty of services for families with dementia on the Isle of Wight, but here such services are barely mentioned. The perception that mum, whose life had been very different from that of privilege which had brought Damien fame, self-fulfilment financial security, now needed care has brought a family back together and Damien to a changed appreciation of values. He found wonderful help given generously to his mum by neighbours and now to himself. He found excellent professional care from the private sector to complement his own efforts and those of friends and neighbours at home. He found appropriate attention toward her physical health from her GP. He describes mum’s progressive loss of communication skills, and the changes of perception that meant that he became seen as his father – with reliving and re-enactment of the pains of that relationship. We hear of his acknowledgement, in agreement with friends and neighbours, that the limits of care at home had been reached – and then a positive appreciation that life within a good care home provides a new beginning, and reflection that the advance of dementia sometimes brings out a person’s better side, rather than amplifying the worst.

    So interesting that the phenomenon of living just in the moment, which is identified as characteristic of life with advanced dementia, has passed to her son as carer who is cognitively whole. He is grateful for the benefits of this perspective for his personal health and social life, expressed with astonishing clarity which reminds me of the wonderful teachings of Barbara Poyson, derived from life with her husband Malcolm.

    ‘if you focus on what is happening to you in this moment and go with it, life begins to work for you.’

    For all of this, we are humbled and thankful.

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