MY DAD’S A GOLDFISH: DAY CENTRE

With taking the Goldfish out at least once a week, plus taking him to appointments with the doctor, with practice nurses, to have his hearing checked, not to mention dealing with the care agency who provided the personal care, I was struggling to keep on top of my writing work – both freelance journalism and preparing a poetry collection for publication. The step-monster never took him anywhere apart from the occasional trip to the supermarket.

The CC came up with various suggestions – there’s a lunch club, for instance, which the step-monster and the Goldfish could attend together. The step-monster didn’t like this idea, nor had she any interest in meeting with other carers in a similar situation. She was enthusiastic about the CC’s suggestion that the Goldfish could perhaps go once a week to the day centre. “Oh, yes,” she chirruped, “he’d enjoy going to meet people.”

CC said she would be happy to refer him for a place. She wasn’t sure how long the waiting list was and someone from the charity would come and do an assessment to see if the Goldfish was suitable. CC said transport wasn’t available – would the step-monster be able to take him there? This is to a church hall a five minute drive from their house. The step-monster’s face changed (I recognise it as her ‘I’m not very happy with this’ look) and she was quiet for a bit before, grudgingly, muttering, “Well, I suppose I could, if I have to.”

This is the woman who want to get the Goldfish out of the house so she can have some ‘me’ time, what she refers to as ‘respite’ and she’s being offered the opportunity to have time on her own nearly all day and she’s reluctant, almost to the point of refusal, about having to give up around fifteen to twenty minutes of time to take and collect the Goldfish. Words failed me. The CC and I look at each other. She looks a bit stunned.

“You could hire a taxi, I suppose,” she suggested, to which step-monster instantly agreed. I just as swiftly vetoed the idea.

“I don’t think you can expect dad to get in a taxi with a strange person to go somewhere he doesn’t know. I’ll take him and bring him back.”

I wanted to go with him to start with anyway to see if he really is happy there, if someone really does talk to him or if he’s left sitting staring into space. They say there will be someone to talk to him about things which interest him but as they don’t know the Goldfish and he doesn’t volunteer information, I’m not convinced. Besides, how many will have any understanding of artificial insemination, cattle breeding lines and Clydesdale Horse pedigrees?

The Goldfish in his younger days. He still retains his love of horses, especially Clydesdales.

The Goldfish in his younger days. He still retains his love of horses, especially Clydesdales.

CC phones next day to say she has made the referral. Someone from the dementia charity will be in touch. When I ask if she still thinks the step-monster’s behavior is simply denial, as she once suggested, she replies that she has never met anyone so resistant to engaging with her husband’s welfare.

Day centre was a great success. The Goldfish was quiet at first, though he happily accepted coffee and biscuits and later tucked into his lunch. He refused to play dominoes. I played, occasionally showing him my hand and asking for advice. After the third game, he reached for the dominoes when they’d been shuffled – and won the next two games. Next time I’ll only stay for part of the day.

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12 thoughts on “MY DAD’S A GOLDFISH: DAY CENTRE

  1. It’s hard enough dealing with your father’s dementia. I’m worried the Step-Monster will be the toughest to deal with for you! It’s nice to hear how your dad picked up on the dominoes and jumped in. A good day.

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    • You are so right, Nancy. It’s difficult enough having a family member with dementia but it becomes even more difficult – and exhausting and infuriating – when the partner shows no inclination to be supportive. Thanks for dropping by.

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    • The day care centre has been a great success – even though he forgets he’s been the moment he leaves. He always enjoyed being there and the would be cheerful and alert for a while afterwards.

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      • Better to be happy and not remember why than stuck at home with the step monster! Day centres are great but in the area I work in the budgets are always being cut. Before I left the services for older people (non-specific to dementia) had been merged with services for younger adults with learning difficulties, and whilst not necessarily an issue it did cause some friction! I have seen some great services specifically tailored to people with dementia though and they are wonderful. I wish there was just more money for them. A lot offer simple pleasures though that don’t cost much and that is nice.

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  2. This is a GREAT blog – I can see why you got the award, for sure!!

    One thing though…there is a good chance Stepmonster is having some signs of early vascular dementia herself. That total loss of perspective and empathy – it is eerily familiar, my mom used to yell at my dad nonstop as if he could help himself; at first, it was easy enough to chalk up to her always being a little harsh and judgmental, but it turned out she was beginning to lose her grip to it. Dad had frontotemporal and went into skilled care about a year and a half before Mom fell and never made it back home.

    I’d bet dollars to donuts Stepmonster is just not putting enough good meals together anymore, and doesn’t quite realize that it isn’t anywhere near enough, let alone that the unexplained weight loss is a serious medical concern where she could be accused of neglect. She’s probably getting enough for herself if her appetite is OK. She’s coming across as mentally OK, because she can chit chat semi-appropriately, but would she pass a mental status examination? Are you sure she should even be driving?

    I remember being upset with my mom for not picking me up at the airport and telling me to get a taxi…but she was sensing that she was not a good enough driver anymore, and had just pretty well given it up, which I only fully realized when I needed to use her car and saw how few miles had been put on it.

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    • Thank you, Vikki. I’m glad you like the blog. I think you are right about the step-monster having dementia herself. I talked to her daughter about getting her referred to the memory clinic but her daughter refused to belive there was anything wrong. The lack of empathy is dreadful and either there is a medical probblem or she is plain nasty – I prefer to think it is not the latter. There is much more to come about the step-monster and the weight loss. I hope you will keep reading.

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