Dementia: Help, she’s trying to kill me!

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Imagine those words coming out of your mum’s mouth.

I experienced this yesterday morning. I’d never heard those words from my mum before, and it was genuinely shocking. Was mum’s dementia causing this?

Help, she’s trying to kill me!

What can you say to that?

Let me explain. I had gone in to wake mum, and I heard her making a funny noise. It wasn’t her snoring, more of a mewing sound, so I knew that she must be in pain instantly. She was awake. I asked her gently if she was ok. She smiled at me and said her back was hurting and wanted to stay in bed.

I wish I’d just left it there and let her sleep a bit more, especially as her mood changed dramatically.

Of course, I didn’t leave her in bed because of her pain. It would only get worse. I needed to move mum to relieve the pressure on her back. I explained that I needed to wash, change and dress her. We could go down for breakfast then, and I could give her some pain killers to help.

Mum wasn’t saying anything. She was very quiet. I asked if she was ok again, but mum wouldn’t speak to me. Another sign of her dementia, so I went about the business of a strip wash in bed.

I told her what I was doing as I tried to remove her nightdress. As I lifted it over her head, she screamed at me.

You’re strangling me – you’re trying to kill me!

Wow, what?

Did I hear that, right? My mum thinks I’m trying to hurt her.

I stopped, tried to reassure mum.

Apologising, I said it must’ve just got tangled as I tried to lift it over your head. I’m sorry.

Instead of that helping, mum became very weepy and started crying escalating until she began to wail. I tried to calm her down, but she continued to wail.

She paused for a moment, so I started to wash her. I was determined to do the minimum to get her out of bed as soon as possible. As soon as I began to wash her, she stopped wailing. Suddenly she was angry and distrustful of me. She kept saying,

I know what your doing, Allah can see you

When I tried to apply deodorant she screamed

Stop it, stop it – you’re trying to poison me, why are you putting poison on me. Ya Allah, Ya Allah (Help God)

I had to leave before I broke down in front of her, hearing her beg for help just killed me. Mum wailing and shouting after me, that Allah would see what I was doing to her.

All I could think was why? Why would she believe I could hurt her? One minute she was angry and the next just crying.

It just hit me to the core, crippled me emotionally, and I couldn’t continue.

Leaving mum alone only made things worse. I could hear her in the background, crying and upset enough to call me and then for her mother. Being alone only increased her anxiety and scared her.

I took several deep breaths to pull myself together. This wasn’t mum; this was the disease (fucking dementia) and then went back in.

Time to change track and instead of doing, I started to say prayers to try and calm her, but all the time she was still screaming. Gently touching her arm to reassure her only resulted in more accusations of harm.

My mother is afraid of me and thinks I want to kill her.

I had no idea what to do. In despair, I just stopped.

She became quieter as I waited without touching her, talking of other things. How pretty that dress was, will it rain on not, what a beautiful scarf – all things for her to focus on until she hopefully started to calm down? I sat next to her quietly as she calmed and talked to her about our plans for the day. I just kept going until I asked her.

Aren’t you cold? Do you want me to help you to put some clothes on?

It felt like a miracle when she said yes! Talking quietly about recipes and asking her opinion on making certain foods distracted mum enough to get her dressed, hoisted (again with mum raising the concern of hurting her), and took her downstairs.

I placed her in the chair and left the room to make breakfast. Mum had forgotten what had gone on before and welcomed me back with the familiar greeting.

Your back, I’m so happy to see you, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah

I felt bruised by the whole experience. It’s just soul-destroying. Mum was safe, but dementia is still so hard.

Mum forgot that she was so scared of me, in the time it took me to make breakfast and return. I’m trying my best to clear it from my mind.

I still need to learn how to deal with this ‘in the moment’ or spot it before it erupts to full scale.

I don’t have any answers on this occasion. I just wanted to share the experience in case you go through something similar and think you’re to blame when you’re not.

It’s just another horrible moment with this disease. Did I mention I hate dementia?

What hurts the most is that others are getting closer to their loved ones, and I seem to be going the opposite way. I want to treasure this time I have with mum. It’s the longest time we spent together since I left for University all the years ago.

I will be speaking to the doctor about reviewing her pain meds as this is where the issue started from – pain. If this continues, it won’t be if I will have the carers back, but more like when I’ll have them back.

Bye for now, until next time, sharing my experience talking to an Admiral Nurse.

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