Xmas in Hospital – 2015


These images highlight a very special Xmas and really capture life in Ward R8. Believe it or not, the 90 minutes spent with Dad was the highlight of Xmas for me and I want to share it with you to show you how little things count . My son Zak and I went into visit Dad in hospital before we had our traditional Xmas lunch at my sister’s house with our extended family (which was fabulous).

We turned up to the ward to find Dad slumped in a chair in the hallway flanked by his nurse. He was heavily medicated and could not lift his head at all so we decided to sit on the floor so he could see us. Surprisingly he remembered how to open a present, to reveal a brand new Port Power cap.

Dad then stood up and did some more laps of the ward with 3 of us in tow.He was groggy and slightly agitated. We had been unable to shower him for several days as he would lash out whenever we attempted. Today was different though – when I asked him to clean his teeth and have a shower I could tell his body language was in ‘auto pilot’. This meant I had a ‘window of opportunity’ to get him in the shower and the chance to get him back to a respectable condition that would make him look and feel comfortable. This was the ultimate goal for me today.

In the bathroom we worked as a team with Zak and Rashmi (nurse) running towels, toiletries and clothes into me so fast I could hardly keep up. Being organised and fast in the bathroom is something you need to master when caring for someone with dementia. What often happens is Dad may walk out of the bathroom at any moment (whether dressed or not) creating an undignified scene for other patients etc…I was totally soaked by the shower, but I couldn’t care less. To watch him just enjoy the warm water pouring on his face was another highlight as he had some relief from his frustrations for those few seconds.He became increasingly agitated as I put his shirt on and missed the armhole on the first attempt (you only get a couple of shots before he lashes out). He was so confused he tried to hit me away and actually hit himself in his own leg (thinking it was mine).

Today was special…We had success! He was showered,with new clothes on, and even let me shave him. Who would have thought something as simple as giving Dad a shower would give me such pleasure? In Dementia World we celebrate ‘small wins’ and today was no exception.

Merry Xmas Dad……

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2 thoughts on “Xmas in Hospital – 2015

  1. Judith says:

    Hello Brett,
    I am so enjoying your blogs and “Thank you ” whole heartedly for your courage to be able share such personal experiences with us all.Its a subject we ALL need to be educated about as a caring society!
    In relation to being able to dress Bob in that “short window” of time have you thought of modifying his clothing by cutting a seam up the back of shirts ,singlets, t-shirts etc and using Velcro as a fastener?

  2. Brett says:

    Hi Judith, Thanks heaps for your feedback and comments. Dad is now back at his nursing home and is in a completely different space. He is much calmer with only brief bouts of agitation and the dressing concerns we had in hospital are now not in play due to us tinkering with medications (de-prescribing), a quieter environment, plus he has declined and is not as physically strong etc. Mum had actually tweaked Dad’s clothing with slits etc and we did try velcro, but he pulled the clothes straight off.

    It is amazing how everything changes so quickly and us carers have to completely change our methods and adapt. This is dementia…..

    By the way if you are on Facebook you can join our online support group at the following link and have access to the stories and thoughts of over 450 others. click the link https://www.facebook.com/groups/dementiadownunder/

    Thanks again


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