Tuesday, 13 June 2017


In Japan. You know who is in and out by the shoes in the entrance hall.
I came home yesterday to find Okaasan's slippers.

So. I knew she was out. Gone. Not at home in her room raging at the curtains, us, the ceiling, the Tv, the blanket, the water.....

The house was empty and quiet. I changed into my home clothes, opened a beer, fed the cats and cut the lawn.

Dear Son came home soon after, looking exhausted and emotional.

Okaasan is now in a mental health hospital. In a locked room. With a restraint on the bed, so she doesn't get up and fall in the night. On drugs to try and level out  the anger at us and the world.

And we feel awful about this. Guilt.
What have we done to Okaasan? Is this the best thing to do? Really?

Apparently, an elderly care home won't accept her at the moment because of the anger issues. Consideration for other residents and staff. If she calms down enough to be with other people then admission to a care home is possible - probably a private room with staff looking after her. Or home? Maybe.

But this was the next stage advice from social worker, day service manager and the doctor at the orthopedic hospital - that Okaasan's fury needs medication, and then once she is manageable another stage of care home or real home can be considered.

Dear Son took his mum yesterday. They had a short joint interview with the doctor, in which Okaasan denied ever being in the orthopedic hospital for 3 weeks etc and waffled on about going downtown alone every day. Then a nurse took Okaasan gently away and Dear Son talked to the doctor alone about their suggested program. To keep her at the hospital, try some dementia drugs to find a good level for her.....a level which will let her be easier to care for. 

Finally, after years of ignoring the drugs options. Dear Son is accepting that drugs may help his mum.

He was shocked to be in a mental health hospital. However new and bright it was. Many many locked doors. Warnings about not bringing sharp objects, outside food...restricted visiting hours, questions about who was allowed to visit. All of that. Me too - I have images of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

We went and ate soup curry near home. We went to a local bar. We drank and talked quietly. Both just shocked, and feeling sad and guilty.

"It's like a pet that people throw away. That's how I feel. I think I should have done better for her" said Dear Son.

And I agreed. I tried to gently soothe his feelings by saying how much we have done for Okaasan over the past 10 years. So many things we HAVE done right. To make her happy here with us. How we have taken the right decisions along the way...and in the past 3-4 weeks.

She needed to go to hospital for the back.
She needed to stay quiet in a corset in bed.
The hospital has no mental health care for patients.
We tried to have her at home.
We tried to protect her physically, and mentally.
We tried. 

We have tried to look after her at home. It isn't possible now. That isn't our fault. It's the sickness of dementia that has taken over her mind. If someone is injured or sick, you try to get help - professional help. And that's what we are doing.

We tell ourselves this. But we don't feel it.


  1. Oh my. You poor things.

    You HAVE done so much and tried so hard.

    I hope they can find the right medication and dosage for Okaasan soon.

    But in the meantime it sounds like she's in the best place for her and for you both.

    Till then keep doing what you're doing.

    I hope the guilt passes soon.

    Love from Kyoto.

  2. First of all let me give you a virtual hug.

    Now, let me tell you this: you have done nothing wrong. She broke her back. She needed a hospital.

    Her fury is a reaction to all the pain of the fracture and the hospital stay. It is scary to see, it is confusing and it breaks our hearts. I have been there, I know it. Her mind does not process things linearly anymore because there is a fog inside her head. She is reacting to the pain, the discomfort and the frustration.

    With luck (yes, I am afraid luck is part of the equation with dementia) and proper medication she will return to her "normal" dementia self. It is a pity she got no psychological support during her stay at the hospital, but let`s not dwell on that.

    A mental hospital is not a happy place for visitors. I feel sorry for him.

    But please, you two must work together to push the guilt feelings aside. You have done nothing wrong. I will repeat that to you until I get blue on the face.

    Is there any counselling available for you and him? You two should receive some outside support to process this emotional chaos. Check with the social services.


  3. Hang in there. While it doesn't feel that way now, you are taking the correct steps to stabilize her, and return peace to everyone's life. You're getting her the help she desperately needs. It's a process -- it takes time to find the right medication & support environment -- two steps forward, one step back. She is lucky to have the two of you, to advocate for her as she navigates this next stage of her life.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear this. I know that you must be grieving for the loss of Okaasan. I think that you managed so well with her all of these years, allowing her to live how she wanted to live, and making sure she kept as much independence as she could. Sincerely, Nancy in Tokyo

  5. I am so sorry for the pain that all of you must be going through. It must be such a difficult stage in your life. You and your husband have given okaasan such a lovely life for the last 10 years. Please remember that and please don't feel guilty about getting professional help. xxxx

  6. You are right. It ISN'T your fault. You haven't 'done this' to Okaasan. This is just one of those horrible things that life throws at people - for no rhyme or reason (why her? why not someone else? why you?). You have managed to protect her for SO long, from what was always going to be the ultimate outcome. If you and Dear Son hadn't shown such compassion, forbearance and patience all these years, there is no way she would have managed to live 'independently' for so long. And if the professionals are finding her impossible to deal with, then why on earth would you be able to. It must be heartbreaking, but from the outside looking in, would she really be any happier or better off at home at the moment? And you and DS need to build your strength up again. You have nothing to feel guilty about. (especially not the state of the kitchen! You should see mine!!!!) Much love and thoughts.

  7. You can only do so much, you have a right to live your life too. Let us hope she does get better both for her sake and yours. Love from Norway

  8. I don't know you personally, but I have read your blog for several years.....always feeling intense admiration and respect for how much you have done for okaasan and your unrelenting concern for her dignity. We took care of my husband's mother who was suffering from dementia and eventually moved her to a care facility. I still tear up remembering the day we moved here there. It's really hard to make such huge decisions on behalf of another adult, but it is for her safety and ultimately her well-being. Hopefully she will respond positively to the medication and will be able to transition back to a regular care facility or even home. Visits from her son and eventually from you will keep her grounded. All we can do is the best we can do. Take care of yourself...