Diagnosis not required
Have been thinking about my mum and her memory recently. Yesterday I said I didn't think she had dementia but there's no denying that her memory is appalling and if I go by Contented Dementia thinking then she may have.
For example she eats the same things for breakfast and lunch each day and if I buy anything different as a treat it sits in the fridge until it reaches its use by date and then I throw it in the bin; If I buy cream (which she has with fruit every day) she will only think to use it if it's the usual brand, anything different and she thinks she's run out and goes to the village shop to buy more; she writes things in the very small boxes on her calendar and often they won't fit in the space so I bought her a diary but she doesn't think to look in it; she asks the same questions again and again but never remembers the answers. So all of these things along with a few others would seem to indicate that she has mild dementia however when her GP who has known her for years queried this about 18 months ago mum was thrown into a flat panic. In her eyes (and those of many, many others) a diagnosis of dementia means the end of life with any meaning. Recently the word has been mentioned by a couple of health professionals along with raised eyebrows in my direction and I've announced that I'm an expert on dementia because of my husband (totally untrue, very few people are experts and I'm a complete novice) and in my opinion she doesn't have it. This is immediately accepted by everyone and Mum, who had stiffened at the mention of it, relaxes and we go on as before. The thing is that I really don't think a diagnosis would be helpful. My mum is perfectly capable of looking after herself as long as certain aspects of her life are organised for her and I do just that. One day a week she goes to her 'posh lunch club' (AKA the care home) for company and activities; a cleaning company goes in and keeps the house tidy; she goes out for lunch in the village 3 days a week and has ready meals on the other days (M & S or the local farm shop); she meets friends at a village coffee morning one day a week; I do her grocery shopping and there is a shop in the village if she runs out of anything; the milkman delivers twice a week; a retired nurse goes in once a week to change her bed and have a chat; a hairdresser has been going once a week for years; she's capable of doing her own washing and insists on clean clothes every day; She has a stair lift which she refuses to use (but at least it's there if she needs it); her neighbours and friends keep an eye on her and have my number if I'm needed other than my once a week visit and I phone her every night. All of this is in place and I ask myself what difference a diagnosis would make other than to frighten her. Once again it's strategies and organisation that work here and at the moment they are enough so I'm leaving well alone.