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Netherfield woman writes moving memoir about caring for mother with Alzheimer’s

A woman from Netherfield has documented the heartbreaking journey she went on following her mother’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dawn Fanshawe has written a book called ‘Lost Down Memory Lane’ to share her story and help others who may find now themselves in a similar situation.

Dawn cared for her mother at home after she was diagnosed with the disease.

Sadly, Avril, passed away in 2011.

Gedling Eye has been given permission to run an extract from the book which is available now and it’s published below…

Yesterday Mum did so well with the new regime: the clothes were left out in the right order (as discussed with the Occupational Therapist) and down she came – all dressed and smiling.

(She hadn’t managed to change the underwear, so we’ll have to address that some other way. Donning clean stuff before bed is unconventional to me, but should work well enough) I felt so pleased.  ‘Breakfast Mammy?’

In the evening we tried another of  the O.T.’s  suggestions: I gave her a long broom and asked her to sweep the kitchen. She seemed happy and, after I moved precariously balanced potential disasters, I left her to it, to do my exercises before Simon returned.

Mammy had swept the floor and there was a satisfying pile of debris to show for it. Full of praise, I issued her with a dustpan and, with lots of direction, she managed to finish the job. Success number 2.

The cover to the new book by Dawn Fanshawe, which is available now.

Then she forgets and moans, “Can I do anything?” (I wish she wouldn’t phrase it like that.) “I’m just hanging about again!”

 “Conor is watching TV; I suppose you could find the sitting room and join him.” I suggested.

She found him this time.

But this is a new day. A screen of long hair sways behind another screen of cereal boxes: the boy is shoveling his way through a bucket-full of breakfast. The boy is Josh, my oldest son. He is 12 years old and enormous. He doesn’t have the same people-skills as others, but he is talented, clever and lovely. He has Asperger’s’ Syndrome, but it’s not always obvious. They call him ‘The Tree’ at school. He’s a handsome, hairy, 5’ 10”, size 11 shoe, hormonal, a ‘GREB’, apparently.

Conor is stirring, but he’ll have to go to school alone today, now Simon is working out of the house. Conor is 10 years old and an entertaining charmer. Simon now has a job at the Science Park, just a stone’s throw from Gibbons Street, where the mechanics’ yard used to be that my Dad and Grandad owned.

On automatic pilot I open the dishwasher to begin the ritual of emptying and making the lunches. 

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It’s ‘Broad Glade Day Centre’ today and they collect anytime between 8.30 and 9am. ‘The Broad Glade Day Centre’ is a recently built Residential Care home and Day Centre, just a twenty minute walk from our house. Mum is taken there by minibus on Thursdays and Fridays, but she doesn’t like to go. I cannot leave Mum in the house alone and I need a break from her sometimes.

I’d better see how she’s doing with the dressing today.

“There you are at last!” she sighs with that inimitable ‘hard-done-to’ tone. “I wondered where you were. It was a long night.”

“Mammy, why didn’t you get up and get dressed? We left all your clean clothes there for you to put on when you got up; – like you did yesterday. You did really well yesterday!”

“But you didn’t come. I was waiting for you. And nobody came. So I went back to bed.”

“Remember the Occupational Therapist? You want to be independent with getting yourself up and dressed in the morning, so you don’t have to wait for anyone. Yesterday you did it really well. Here are your clothes for today… I’m making sandwiches; you get these clothes on and come down for breakfast. OK?”

Grump. Sulk. She’s not happy. But I’m not going to let anyone get to me today.

Josh is late – why do children hate wearing waterproofs? I suppose Josh loves the rain and can’t see what’s wrong with wearing it all day. And Conor just likes to be stubborn and contrary.

Mum’s not down yet, so I’ll intervene.

Good, the nightie is off, but the top is inside out and she looks upset.

 “Shall I put that the right way round, Mammy? It’s a bit tricky like that!”  We’ll try teamwork today. I’ll leave her to don her slip-on shoes independently and I’ll put the landing light on.

“I’ll go and make your breakfast, Mammy. Come down when the shoes are on.”

Conor is very cuddly this morning; he’s been good and got dressed, shoes on and hair brushed.

“Conor, when Nana comes down, go and greet her, cos. she’s a bit grumpy this morning!”

“Morning Nana?” he beams, sidling up and giving her a warm hug.

Conor is so good with her. He’s a bit cheeky, but he gives her so much time – mutually beneficial of course, as he needs an audience and she needs entertaining.  It couldn’t have been better really.

You can read more on Dawn’s blog, which can be found here: https://dawnfanshawe.wordpress.com/

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