“I would like to feel that my son would never, ever have to be so conflicted in his feelings towards me”
At the age of 56, Allie quit her job as a teacher to care for her mother, Enid, who has dementia.
She lives with her partner in Cornwall in a close-knit community, where her mother also lives. While her son, aged 25, lives away in Canada.
Below, Allie paints a picture of how she helps her mother. But also the difficult time she’s having emotionally with the situation as she navigates unchartered territory.
“My mother and I have always had a close relationship. She’s always been so supportive of me, and has been there through everything.
But as she got older, her dementia wasn’t getting better. So I quit my job at Christmas to care for her. It’s obviously a lot less income than I was getting when I was teaching, but it’s still enough to get by on.
She was once able to see people and do things. She was able to wander around the village. But, obviously, when Covid happened that all stopped. The deterioration in her in the last year has been huge.
I’ve now seen up close how carers are paid very little and have a massive workload. They’re so stretched. Her friends were an important part of her life, and they couldn’t visit because of Covid, too.
When she was first diagnosed, she was still using quite complex language. But you aren’t really able to compensate for any loss of language. Today I can see her so diminished and she’s barely able to string a sentence together.
I miss my son, but I can’t tell her that because she wouldn’t understand it. I just have a constant feeling of anxiousness, wondering if she’s okay. She’s still so incredibly fit and physically able. And we don’t know how long this will go on for.
I’ve stopped myself from trying to second guess what’s going to happen. I don’t want her to go into a home. But I also don’t think I could actually move in and live with her 24 hours a day, I don’t think I’ve got the emotional resilience to do that. I’m pretty sure that she would have done it for her mum, and that also makes me feel guilty.
It’s a very, very strange place for me to be. I’m wondering all the time: is she still okay? Is she alright at home? Has she wandered out? I think the reality is that, all the time, I’m waiting for a phone call from somebody to say that she’s left the house.
My partner, Sarah, has been amazing in helping me to support mum, and mum just adores her. Sometimes I get really frustrated or really upset or sometimes we get really angry about things. And the repetition. But Sarah will put my mind at rest, because she also loves my mum.
My son’s living in Canada currently. He’s my only child, and I wouldn’t want him to be in my shoes when I get older. And I think it’s about having those conversations as well. I would like to feel that my son would never, ever have to be so conflicted in his feelings towards me if I were ever in the position I’m in with my mother. That’s what I really hope.”
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