On 12 March 2019 my dad died following a series of mini strokes (transient ischemic attacks) that caused rapid onset vascular dementia.
In a short space of time he faded from the funny, book-reading, cake-loving, articulate man I had known all my life to someone incapable of looking after himself, unaware of his environment and unable to recognise the people around him, including his much-loved granddaughters.
It was distressing to witness this quick deterioration and the hopelessness we felt.
Coping with the physical and emotional demands was, at times, devastating. It is hard to reconcile the understanding of someone’s declining health with the frustrations and complications that arise from it.
Throughout this time there was one unwavering constant: the amazing care, support and compassion shown by the various dementia trained healthcare professionals who looked after dad.
They gave him dignity, patience, attention, and as good a quality of life as could have been hoped for in the time he had left.
They offered comfort when he was upset, reassurance when he was afraid, and companionship when he was lucid. They seemed to understand what he wanted and when he needed it, despite him often being unable to communicate coherently.
That care and support was also extended to me and my family, helping us make sense of something as confusing, cruel and insidious as dementia.
Dementia professionals helped me to discover some special moments in those dark times, like watching him sing Frank Sinatra songs with his nurse or helping him devour the largest bowl of jelly and ice cream I’ve ever seen.
They helped me see past the dementia to the person I had known and loved all my life: my dad.
As part of LNWH Charity’s fundraising team, I have the chance to say thank you to our dementia specialists by supporting the Forget Me Not Appeal.
It’s a small token of appreciation to these amazing health care professionals who help countless people like my dad and my family through some very difficult, but sometimes memorable, times.
I hope you will join me by getting a forget-me-not flower at one of our hospitals during dementia awareness week between 20 and 26 May, and making a donation to LNWH Charity’s Dementia Fund.
For more information, drop me a line:
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- call 020 8869 3367
Simon Pitts, son of John Pitts (Frank Sinatra fan and food fanatic) and LNWH Charity Community Manager