about writing and life and God

3 in a row

on August 18, 2012

I was emptying wastepaper baskets in the outside bin this morning and got chatting with a young man who was visiting my elderly neighbour. Turns out he’s her son, come quite a distance to see his Mum for the weekend. I had noticed she’s having more visitors – virtually every day – but had not realised the family were providing that level of support because she’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/vascular dementia.

That’s three in a row in the first seven houses on our street. My neighbour on the other side cares for her husband who has the same diagnosis as my husband (frontal lobe dementia). He  is a gentle soul who needs physical care which can be provided at home with the help of agency carers and family members who live locally.

I told the young man that he and his sister should feel free to come and talk to my neighbour and me. We’ve been submerged in the caring-for-dementia duckpond (think muddy water and entangling waterweed!) for quite a few years now and might be able to offer useful advice, contacts etc.

But… three in a row. Just shows how prevalent dementia is. Three in a row reminds me of the three wise monkeys – but also the ‘See no evil, hear no evil…’ I live in a really nice street, with nice friendly neighbours. But it does seem rather ‘See no evil, hear no evil’  the way that we three in a row have had to struggle on alone.

I am aware of how many friends simply do not want to hear about my husband’s illness. It’s as though they’re afraid it’s contagious – and my speaking about it makes it real and able to reach out its tentacles towards them. This attitude is hurtful and isolating.

Hopefully all the publicity we’re seeing about dementia will reduce the public fear factor. And maybe the government will genuinely recognise the size of the problem and the contribution of the mass of carers hidden away behind closed doors, sometimes three in a row.


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