My Dad and Dementia

(c) OccasionalBlog.net

This month my Dad turns 80, we’re really looking forward to driving to the Southwest to visit them for his birthday weekend. The other side of this is having to have a chat with Big M. Having to explain that Grandpa might act strangely sometimes and get a little confused.

We all suffer with memory loss as we get older but for some, it’s a little more serious than that.  For my Dad it’s slowly been creeping up on him over the past five years or so. We’re still waiting for an official diagnosis but all signs point towards Dementia. 

And now things seem to be deteriorating more rapidly.

Early Signs

At first he would be aware that his memory wasn’t the best, as we all get older I think we can relate to this. When he met with friends or acquaintances he would often start the conversation “You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t remember you too well, my memory is crap nowadays”. It was all a bit lighthearted to begin with but then it started to affect his moods.

He would get really angry with himself if he forgot the simplest thing, like a pint of milk he’d asked to pick up as he was passing the corner shop. I think he was scared that he would end up like his own mother who suffered with Dementia and passed away not recognising any of her children who would often visit her.

To begin with my Mum also found it frustrating, they would visit places they’d been to before and he would say how he’d never been there.  Mum would tell him, exasperatedly, that they had. My parents like going on cruises. After their 4th or 5th cruise holiday, Dad told me what a fantastic holiday it was, he’d never been on a cruise before. He would meet acquaintances who would greet him warmly and he’d have no idea of who they were.

Acceptance

Gradually they started to accept that this was becoming the new normal and Mum would devise ways to help him deal with it. They began to keep photo diaries of their holidays so she could show Dad the places they’d been and remind him of what happened.

Dad has also slowly accepted his failing memory and tries to not get angry about forgetting things. However this has also been helped by the antidepressants that are now part of his daily pill intake. My sister, who is a doctor and lives close to them, has been a great help and support (to my mum in particular). Providing sound advice and making sure when they go to their memory consultations that they know what’s happening.

However he has his good days and bad days. He still gets very confused, for example he recently tried to use a shop’s loyalty card instead of his debit card in a shop. He was convinced it was his debit card and got very agitated when Mum tried to explain that it wasn’t.

How do I feel?

I’ve found it hard. As you can see from the picture at the beginning of this post, me and my Dad are (were) keen cyclists. He got me interested in bikes and cycle racing when I was still a teenager. We enjoyed a number of cycling holidays together to Mallorca. Of course, he doesn’t really remember them. I’m beginning to feel I’ve lost the Dad I used to ride with around those stunning mountain roads.

We live near London, a three and half hour (minimum) drive from them. It is so difficult as you get older and you realise that your parents are beginning to increasingly need your support. This is made doubly difficult when you have a young family who equally require 100% of your attention. What makes it worse is knowing that his condition is only going to deteriorate.

What next?

Well we need an official diagnosis that he is suffering with Dementia. Only then will they be able to access much needed help and support.

We’ll be making sure we go and visit as often as we can. I want my girls to spend as much time as they can with their Grandpa which will hopefully help him as well.

Useful Links

DementiaUK

Alzheimer’s Research UK

Alzheimer’s Society

NHS

Mental Health Foundation

 

 

 

Time to make a major career change – teaching

I recently wrote about our plans to relocate to New Zealand. You can see my post about it here.

Things seems to have gathered pace now. It’s funny how just one little moment sparks something in your mind and from that an idea snowballs! Well for me it happened last week.

We’ve been doing the rounds of local school open days recently. Big M starts reception next September so we have to submit our school applications by this coming January. We’ve been really impressed with each school we’ve visited which makes the decision really hard. But I digress.

In each classroom we visited the children seem so lively and engaged. We’ve taken along little m on a couple of these visits. In one reception class in particular, a lovely little girl commented on how nice little m was. It wasn’t that in particular but all these interactions with the children sparked something in me. I thought to myself “you know, I’d quite like to spend my time working in this environment”.

(c) Telegraph.co.uk

So over the weekend I mentioned this to my wife and she was super enthusiastic about it. Over the weekend we discussed it at length and now I’m settled on this being my big career change! I’m really excited about the idea. The thought of going back to work in finance and accountancy did not appeal at all!

This has also crystallized our plans for relocating to NZ. Before, neither of us had an idea of what we would do to earn a living out there. My wife works in the banking industry in the city and is ready to step down from being the breadwinner. Now that I have decided on teaching, that is something I can easily do in NZ and also support the family while doing so.

What happens next. I’ve already started researching post-grad teacher training courses, I’ve registered with UCAS. I just need to work out what area I want to go into. My first thought is Primary but I keep being recommended Secondary. There’s quite a bit of research to do, fortunately there appears to be a lot of helpful advice out there….watch this space.

Have any of you gone through a major career change, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


	

Moving to New Zealand

As regular readers will know, my wife is a kiwi and since we had the children we’ve tried to visit NZ every year. We want them to know and enjoy visiting their family over there.

I was going to write a piece on what we did on our travels over there but have decided to share with you our current thoughts on a much bigger life changing decision.

Holiday blues

After every trip over there we always get a touch of the holiday blues which is particularly hard for my wife as NZ is her home. Ever since we first met she has talked about moving back and I’ve always readily entertained that idea. Now we have children the question of emigrating is becoming more and more important.

When to go?

We need to think about when, the eldest of the nephews and nieces over there is 16. We’d want to go soon so the girls can enjoy spending time with their cousins before they themselves spread their wings and leave the nest. Also, as Galla is now three years old, she will be starting school in 2019 so we’d need to think about timing around her schooling.

Whereabouts?

Oamaru

My wife comes from Oamaru in the South Island, for a provincial NZ town it’s actually pretty cool. It must be, because Lonely Planet said so. Since I met my wife, I’ve visited four times now. I actually stopped there when I was backpacking through NZ in 2004. Little did I know I’d end up getting married there!

Each time we visit I say to my wife “you know, I could live here”. Which is always a surprise to her because, being local, she can remember growing up just wanting to leave. She never thought she’d consider coming back to settle there with a family.

Pros –

  • Family close by,
  • familiarity,
  • friendly locals (like most places in NZ),
  • good schools,
  • lots of outdoor activities to enjoy close by.

Cons –

  • Work; my wife works in banking and my background is finance, there’s not much call for that locally. We’d have to think outside the box. Do something completely different, run a cafe or B&B for example? That will take time to organise and will involve a steep learning curve.

Auckland

Auckland, NZ’s largest city. It’s a lovely city to visit, lots to do and see, some excellent dining and drinking as well.

(c) aucklandtourism.co.nz

Pros –

  • big city amenities in not such a big city,
  • friends close by,
  • Work, Auckland’s economy is booming and it would be one of the easiest places in NZ for my wife and I to find work in our sectors.

Cons –

  • It’s a city; why move to the other side of the world to live in another city?
  • Furthest from family, they would be a plane trip away,
  • Expensive to buy property and like most of NZ, cost of living is high.

Somewhere new?

Somewhere completely different in NZ. It’s a stunning country and there are some truly spectacular places to live.

Pros –

  • We could live somewhere neither of us have been before and really start family life anew

Cons –

  • That’s a bit scary quite frankly!

What happens now?

Are you still here? Thanks for reading this far and letting me download my thoughts on this complicated decision process.

My challenge now is to start putting together a plan on what needs to happen when in order to get us to the other side of the world. I will write more blog posts as I work along this process. Do we sell up here? Do we go with work in familiar areas or do we try something completely different?

Watch this space. If you have any thoughts or tips on moving your family to a different country, I’d love to hear them.

(c) OccasionalBlog.net