Mother’s Day (Alzheimer’s/Dementia – A Fate Worse than Death)

Screen shot 2014-02-03 at 07.32.15This is the first Mother’s Day that I haven’t chosen a card or gift for my mother, for she died in January. Although it was for the best – and she was nearly 96, it still affected me more than I ever anticipated. (As my mum had reached such a ripe old age and had been at death’s door a few times, I thought I was well prepared).

As you will have seen from some of my earlier blogs, she had a mixture of Alzheimer’s and dementia (two different parts of the brain affected) so life was very difficult for both of us. She lived with me till two years ago – until I could no longer cope, mainly because she had manic episodes where she would be very agitated and go without sleep for days and nights until she became exhausted, then she would sleep for maybe 12 hours or more and recharge her batteries – until the next time. Unfortunately I still had to get on with my every day existence and sleep deprivation is a form of torture. I actually reached breaking point and after one of the three-day/night episodes I phoned Social Services to say that sadly, I had reached the end of the road.

Mum and Dad
Mum and Dad
Bessie Croft and Family 11
1948: Mum with me at our new council house
Mum with her two grandchildren
Mum with her two grandchildren
Mum and Dad on their Golden Wedding Anniversary (he died in 2000, just a few months before their Diamond Jubilee)
Mum and Dad on their Golden Wedding Anniversary (he died in 2000, just a few months before their Diamond Jubilee)
Mum and Me
Mum and Me

She went into full-time care at the home were she sometimes went for respite, so was quite settled there – well, as settled as she would ever be. Her decline was gradual until the last few months when she was confined to bed, doubly incontinent, could no longer feed herself and had to be turned every two hours to prevent bedsores.

The light has gone out


The day before she died I gave her the evening meal and she ate most of it, including a dessert and drank a whole cup of tea. I had no indication whatsoever that it would be for the last time.

The following morning at about half nine I received a call from the home asking me to go there urgently. I flew there as quickly as I could and as I arrived the nurse told me Mum had passed away. The carers had turned her at 8am and at 8.15 the nurse checked in on her. When the carer went in with her breakfast just after nine she found that Mum had died. She was still warm when I got there.

So, after all the torment of recent years, she slipped away peacefully at the end.


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Born in Liverpool at the end of WW2, but raised in Skelmersdale. I first studied art in Southport from 1960-63 and worked in graphic design till I married. In December 1969 I moved to Zambia with my husband and two young children. There I taught art in the local girls school, illustrated for the National Correspondence College and did all sorts of other artwork, paid and unpaid. In 1978 I divorced and remarried in the summer of 1980. In 1985 I became ill and the following year cancer was diagnosed. There was no treatment available in Zambia and so I had to go to the UK. After recovering from a radium needle implant I went back to Zambia, but 18 months later the cancer recurred and it was off to the UK again for radical surgery. This time I realised I must stay in the UK where treatment was available, so I never returned to Zambia nor my husband. A few months later I applied for a degree course, but two years later the disease metastasised and I spent most of my final year in and out of hospital. It’s been a long hard road, but I’m still plodding on and it is now 24 years since my last cancer treatment. Because of my experience of cancer and surviving against the odds, I try and help others cope with their devastating diagnosis and prognosis.

3 thoughts on “Mother’s Day (Alzheimer’s/Dementia – A Fate Worse than Death)”

  1. It’s trite to say it, but we do only have one mother – and when she has been around for so long, her absence must be very painful on these occasions. Sending you a virtual hug xx


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