We went to the doctor this afternoon - and discovered how many things we've both been doing wrong with Okaasan care - and what we can expect to look forward to in the coming years....
It was SO GOOD to sit and talk to a sympathetic, un-shockable guy who mercifully didn't have us on a limited timetable and he let us - well mainly Yujiro - talk and talk and talk.
Yujiro had prepared in writing a timetable of events in Okaasan's decline...from 2 years ago when he noticed that she was giving up on the housework and cooking in Saitama, to last year's accusations about the post office stealing Y300,000....and then right up to last Thursday night's son/mother domestic violence.
The doctor was a young guy - with plump hands and belly, dressed casually...we sat around a coffee table and he took notes...scribbling down furiously when we admitted to another Carer Mistake: Contradicting, Correcting, Assuming, Invasion of Personal Space.....
Our main concern was: What to do next time she accuses me of taking her stuff?
He said - calmly offer to help look for the item, gently say a mistake may have been made...calmly, calmly....and after any tidying of her room to put the removed items (papers and trash) out of sight.
He and we wonder if these outbursts are connected to something else entirely e.g. food she doesn't want to eat (cheese fondue last week!) or some other negative experience.
But he also said that these accusations will return - whether it is "who touched my stuff?" to "who took my money?"....
Interestingly he said dementia sufferers lose track of days and dates first, then location...and finally the identity of people around them. Okaasan is definately at the first stage and when we moved in spring and early summer she drifted into location problems when we got phone calls from people around the city who found her wandering.
So. It was a successful doctor trip. We all agreed that GETTING Okaasan there would be impossible at the moment (and Yujiro and I have agreed counter-productive at the age of 79), so we left it as advice for us, information about a Dementia Sufferers Family Support Group....but in 2 hours with Dr. Plump - we covered a lot of ground.
Wish we'd gone earlier. But now we have.
Put it all into practice at dinner tonight - lighthearted chat about food and year end parties, fish, Hawaii.....trying to give Okaasan topics she can start her monologues on. The book I read about dementia likened conversations to tennis ball serves - putting up a topic, tossing it gently over the net...and seeing if there is any response. If not moving the conversation on to another "ball".
It took a whole-lotta-stress-and-anger to get us into that office this afternoon - I felt we were at a Marriage Guidance Counsellor - but it was all worth it.
I hope we can try to make a new start.....and now I can focus on the MUCH more important topic of how to fit a huge turkey in a small oven next Friday night.
More on that another time.