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Another day before the mast

In one form or another it was perhaps ever thus, but the fact is that the modern world and its media are full of reports and stories covering the vagaries and random challenges thrown up by life ‘as it is’ and as others experience it.

For every disability, condition, disease or affliction that ever existed you can bet your bottom dollar that the National Health Service has (or has not) sufficient funding to deal with it, there are Ministers of the Crown responsible for it, there are charities and lobby groups campaigning for better treatment and support for those who are prey to it – and also for their family members indirectly affected by living day to day with sufferers.

Age and indeed the accompanying baggage of general increased improved health and longevity are a case in point.

I need do no more than mention the old chestnut that one factor in our ever-increasing number of official diagnoses of dementia is simply that – in the old days (however you define that term) – most people tended to die younger than now from some other cause, i.e. either before they developed it, or, if they did have it, before it was diagnosed for what it was.

A few days ago a friend of the family dropped in and in passing told of the latest on her eighty-something mother, still a formidable lady but now somewhat diminished.

As her only daughter, it tended to fall to our visitor to deal with the nitty-gritty aspects – a situation that has resulted in regular and ongoing clashes between them, not least because (naturally) the lady herself has no recognition that she has dementia and indeed denies it.

Inevitably during our conversation notes were compared and common ground identified.

Dementia sufferers can swing between periods e.g. when receiving visitors and/or going upon an outing they somehow manage to “get themselves up” for the project and appear to the world as perfectly normal … and then other periods, sometimes just minutes later when, left to themselves and those close to them, their degree of ga-ga-ness becomes all too apparent.

Yesterday afternoon I went to see my own aged parent who is temporarily staying in a residential home. He was surprised to see me, humbly expressed his gratitude that I had taken the trouble to visit and asked after my latest news.

I began detailing it over the next twenty minutes, pausing three times during my discourse as I noted his eyes glazing over and his head falling onto his chest as he dozed off and slept for four or five minutes before waking again and immediately asking either how much it was costing for him to be in the establishment and/or when he was due to come out.

In all I remained with him for ninety minutes – the last hour of which, our topics of conversation by then exhausted, we spent watching television together (first Escape To The Country and then Flog It!, if my readers are interested).





































About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts