Seeing The Future

There is a warden controlled place a little way down from our station and we find ourselves going there a fair bit. Unlike some of the so-called 'care' homes that we go to, this place is really nice, the wardens are great and they call us for all the right reasons.

Our patient was somewhere in her seventies and had just moved into the place, her 'paperwork' was still coming in from the various agencies that had arranged her placement here. She had a 'funny feeling' in her head from the night before and had vomited once in the morning.

As these were unusual symptoms the warden thought that it would be best for her to go to hospital and had called us. I couldn't disagree.

It was hard to get the patient to describe her symptoms to us as she was suffering from the early stages of alzheimers disease.

Her disease showed itself by her constant repeating of a few conversation topics. She kept telling me about the lino that she had jut bought. She told me that she was concerned about the women who keep knocking on her door (the wardens checking that she is alright), and that she sometimes gets panicked during the night.

Yet she was able to recite a long prayer word for word at me.

She was a really pleasant lady, one of the 'old East end' types, littering her talk with gentle, friendly cuss-words. Friendly and polite, telling me about her family that keep visiting her and fitting her new lino. Just the sort of old person that I like, and if you've read this blog for any time you'll know I have a soft spot for the old 'uns.

Normally when we see patients with alzheimers disease they are pretty far gone, often bed-bound, they cannot remember anything, they are incontinent and can spend the whole day crying. It's an awful, awful disease, and this pleasant lady was going to end up like this.

It's hard work to care for someone suffering from dementia, it was hard enough for me to listen to her circling conversation for twenty minutes.

Especially as when I looked at her I could see her future.

12 thoughts on “Seeing The Future”

  1. Hey Tom!(First-time commenter here. Love your blog, book, etc…)

    You should check out KnowItAlz.com for a “refreshing” perspective on such a devastating disease.

  2. My Great Nanna had it, it was awful! I was only 11 and thought it was part of getting old and did not want to be old if I was going to suffer like that, it is the loved ones that suffer too isn't it……….heartbreaking.

  3. I have done several jobs on residential homes, and always come away feeling terribly depressed. The sheer cruelty of age is bad enough, without some of the attendant squalor some of these homes have to offer at the end of a person's long and often hard working life. I frequently find myself looking at some human wreckage and wondering what they were like at my age, at 30 or as a child. No different from you and me. Is this what we have to come to?

  4. 'Tis why it be called the Goldern years, when thee get rid of all thee gold that thee ever had, any left over will be for thy pyramid. One has no choice [exceptions be not approved of] but play the hand that thee be dealt, with all these nice folks nee nawing, picking thee up when thee fall at a hurdle of life , Lifewill give thee another choice that thee do not not know of.Having done my Biblical number, I can sit here and contemplate the door that has my number.Having friends and family that have tested the various ways to cross the bridge, none of them have come back and told me which path I should take, so it be in the dice that will decide.In the case of Alzheimer's it is the loved ones that pay the price, as it does appear that they never appear to realize their problem .So I say to one and all, make the most of the cards that be dealt to thee. Think of the consequences of of thy decisions then go for it.,

  5. I'm not going to go into another rant because as I've long since discovered, it is pointless, everyone has already made their mind up and they aren't listening anymore but I am going to say that my family has owned a nursing home for the really severe end of the EMI bracket for 20 years now. Our prime concern is the dignity and quality of life for residents. We do not stick them on tranks, in fact a lot of time is taken weaning them off the tranks that whatever hospital they were in has stuck them on, they are taken on day trips, encouraged to keep their hobbies and interests going, their likes and dislikes in terms of food and surroundings are catered for, we ensure that if they are coming from home their personal belongings and trinkets are brought as well so that their room feels as much like home as possible. Not every nursing home is a shit strewn heap, feeding grandma on minced cardboard and locking her ina cupboard and not every nursing home owner is a money hungry arsehole looking for a fast buck. My father, who set up the home and still runs it himself is a trained psychiatric nurse who spent years working as a CPN, he knows what he's doing and more inportantly, he cares. Also, anyone who tells you that a nursing home is an easy way to make loads of money is talking rot. We've been close to bankrupcy a number of times and at one point the family had to move into the sleeping in room at the home because we couldn't afford the utility bills on the family home because the nursing home wasn't paying my dad. He used to work 90 hour weeks because the home couldn't afford to pay another nurse and he would work for free. We had to have christmas day at the nursing home and our christmas lunch with the residents because no other nurse would work it for normal pay. We saw my dad about once a week and he was usually too knackered to play or talk. Yes, there are people out there who are in it for the money but I'm fed up of the world thinking every home is like that because it's not, ours isn't. Some homes care and it's about time the media stopped banging the 'all homes are shit' drum and acknowledged this.I lied, I did rant again!

  6. you did rant, but it was a good rant. I know lots of people give homes a hard time, but there are plenty out there just like your families, who provide the care that the residents deserve. I applaud you and your family for sticking it out through the tough times, I only see the homes from an ambo point of view, and I certainly wouldn't want to work in one. Just like the service, it is a thankless task sometimes, more so when you are being attacked from all sides by the media etc. The good ones tend to be the independants, as the residents are there as human beings, not bums in beds that the large homes seem to only care about (or on the floor, or in a cupboard….)Don't ever give up, and rant all you like as there are people out here who listen, and care. One day we will all end up in a similar situation, having to rely on either relatives or people running care homes/nursing homes/residential homes etc… the sooner we do something about the bad ones, the sooner the media can stop banging that drum, and get on with praising the good ones….

  7. I'd like to echo Herts Ambo Bloke, a cracking rant fallen angel, please don't stop, in fact please blog it and tell what it's like, for real.My mums neighbour has dementia, every day she goes (as she has done for the last thirty years, to my knowledge,) out walking in the hills, no one ever has a clue where she has gone, or where to start looking for her if she wasn't home by dusk. This worries my mum, but I think more power to her brogues and cagoule, if something were to happen to her, it would not be such a bad way to go.

  8. Good rant.I agree – which is why I made explicit the point that the place where this woman lives is a *nice* place.

    Like Hertsambobloke I can only write about what I see, when they are good I say so, when they are bad (as, unfortunately around my area they are) I also say so.

    Don't ever think that I lump *all* care homes into one basket. I've seen some truly lovely places. Unfortunately around my area many of them are 'chains' and employ 'nurses' who I wouldn't trust to look after a dog.

    And then there is the lovely place down the lane that I've only been to once because they *look after* their people and so don't need to call us.

    As I say – I can only write about what I see, if I came to your nursing home I'm sure I'd write a different piece than to those I write after visiting a BUPA 'granny-farm'.

  9. Very true words.And I think it's one of the things that make us ambulance people lucky – in that we tend to realise this before we get close to that door…

  10. Bard did say ” evil dothe live on and good is oft interred in the bones.” summut like that.Then it takes only one boob to cancel the 1000 good things.As one famous Labourite did say, he reads his daily dose of mis information. [misquote]As Reynolds says, keep up thy rant, the world needs to hear of the good people that do wonderful work, but 'umans like dirt, not good, tis why the dailies, depress, wail, & dun, et al dothe sell like wild cakes.PS Thank Goodness that there are good places. What thee read has to be taken with a pinch of salt.My rule 10% extremely bad, another 10% extremely good, the rest which ever the wind blows.

  11. Re: People with Alzheimer's not realizing their own condition – Not necessarily. Early on, they realize, when they can't find their car keys again, or get lost on the way to a familiar place, and that scares them, or relatives get annoyed with them for asking the same question over and over, and that makes them embarrassed. They DO know, and it's tragic and terrigying. They're probably BETTER off in the final stages, when they are REALLY out of it.

  12. See these poor people on an almost daily basis. One was really violent and was hitting out at everyone as we tried to take her back to her nursing home from hospital. A porter actually asked me if he should call security. Can you believe that. She was still lashing out as I was strapping the wheelchair into the back of the ambulance. Smiling helps.

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