Always make time to listen

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Darling, do please tell Daddy to stop getting in and out of his coffin.’

That was the Cushion Plumper (my Ma) making, to her, what seemed like a very reasonable request of her daughter.

After all, I had inherited from her mother the gift of sight, so in her mind – albeit ravaged with dementia – it seemed like the obvious solution.

I just giggled and then replied: ‘Okay mum, I’ll have a chat with Pa on his cosmic cloud and tell him to stay put.’

I’d been advised by mental health professionals to never challenge what Ma said, even when the lines between fact and fantasy were blurred.

Sufferers of dementia live in their own reality and arguing the ‘facts’ only distresses them.

So, although we were in Palmerston Road precinct, with oodles of open-mouthed shoppers looking on in astonishment, I treated Ma’s request as normal chit-chat.

I wish I’d ignored some of the mental health advice I’ve been given last year and paid more attention to what my Ma had been telling me.

Perhaps now she wouldn’t have money and jewellery missing.

Folks, I’m telling you our story because of the numerous Pompey people I’ve spoken too who had, or have, a loved one with dementia.

It’s bad enough that our hearts are breaking and our souls are in shreds.

We watch, helpless, as our relative crumbles before our eyes.

They are there, but not there.

But you must be vigilant folks.

Even in the depths of dementia, your mum or dad could be aware of what’s happening, so listen and check it out.

What’s happened to my mum is heartbreaking.

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