September 30, 2021

This time it was different…


Stacey Baxter, one of our team members, has first hand experience with Dementia following her Nan’s diagnosis over 6yrs ago. Stacey tells us her story following a visit to her Nan in Kenton Care home, Newcastle in September.

Nanna was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s over 6yrs ago when she was moved into a care home. Nanna lived alone, and whilst my Grandad would visit every day (the daily routine of cup of tea, nit pick each other, put the horses on, place their bets then watch the races together), it was becoming too much of a worry for her living independently. She was stubborn and wouldn’t ask for help, and even with home care, it was the right decision to move to full time care.

To this day Nanna remains stubborn and only until recently, she refused to use her walker (she’s coming up to 90, had a stroke and broken her hip amongst other bones – my Dad calls her Lazarus!). She settled well and whilst confused as she couldn’t leave to see family, she made friends and always made the care staff laugh which gave us peace of mind. Nanna was placed in care whilst I was travelling, and whilst I don’t live in the UK anymore, I visit as often as I can to see her in the home, amongst visiting the rest of my family.

I remember the first time visiting, it was slightly strange for me, and leaving was upsetting as Nanna would walk us to the exit but we would have to leave her behind the secure door, whilst she waved against the window pane; it remains upsetting to this day. Every time I have visited over the last 6yrs I have sadly noticed symptoms get progressively worse, but she was always still full of vibrant fun energy making us laugh with her cheeky sense of humour and infectious laugh, but this time if was different.

The pandemic resulted in being unable to visit for nearly 2yrs, this time she did not know who I was, the entire experience of visiting behind a plastic screen was confusing, and it was the first time I witnessed a change in personality & behaviour. Nanna became angry both verbally and physically, she also  hallucinated pointing to small children in the garden – there was no one there. Her speech has been affected now, lots of confusion and also anger. Not always, I just got her on a bad day, which can happy unfortunately. Dementia cannot be determined nor predicted, every day can be different and is different for every person living with the disease.

To me, at that moment, it wasn’t my Nanna but I persevered and will continue to persevere, as whilst they may not know you, it’s important to still treat them the same, give them time, give them company, hold their hand, and let them know you care.”