94-year-old Beth, who had lost control of her life due to dementia and didn't have a say at the care home, is living a much better life now. She reads, writes, watches TV, and chats with her old friends over the phone.
Her children were her world. No matter how ill she was or tired she got with age, she was there when her children needed her. That is the extent of a mother's love. However, it is not often that this depth of love and dedication showed by a mother gets the appreciation it deserves. But for Jane Hardy's mother, it is different. 94 years old and suffering from dementia, Beth was living in a care home, until Jane decided to bring her mother back home. Little did she realize it then but with time, the aging mother's health was improving in more ways than expected.
Writing for Daily Mail, Jane Hardy revealed how dedicating her time to take care of her mother Beth had a huge impact on her dementia for the better. Observing the shift in her mental health since she moved to Jane's Surrey home, Beth is not the same person she remembers from the nursing home years ago.
"...were anyone to visit my home, I doubt they’d realize the old lady helping me fold the laundry, chatting about whatever story she’d just read in the newspaper or dictating where in the garden I place the plants she’d picked out at the garden center, had been diagnosed with this horrible disease at all," Jane writes.
Beth was 89 years old when she was first diagnosed with dementia. The elderly woman who had a very late retirement showed initial signs of forgetfulness. However, she was a proactive individual. "She continued working as a doctor’s secretary until she was 80 and, even in her incredibly late retirement, still volunteered a couple of days a week in a charity shop," recalled Jane.
But soon, Beth met with an accident and her forgetfulness had already developed into full-blown dementia. Thinking of her mother's welfare, Jane shifted her into a care home. But soon Jane realized that it was a big mistake.
Though Beth was given proper attention at the care home, she had completely lost her ability to read or write and her health was declining drastically. She saw that her mother was not treated like the strong woman she truly is. "In the home, she was spoken to kindly, but as though she was a baby, rather than the intelligent woman she really is. Certainly, no one had time to discuss the day’s news reports with her."
Moreover, Jane realized that her mother who was a force of nature to her was not in control of her own life at the nursing home. "Mum would have to fit in with how they did things. I didn’t want her to have to relinquish so much control over her own life, however nice the furniture or interesting the menu," Jane adds.
Jane, who immensely loved her mother could not bear to see her spend the last years of her life in such a situation. And that's when she decided to move her mother back to her home in Surrey. Though the initial days were difficult, Jane knew what she had to do to get her mother back to whom she was.
"When she first moved in with me, she seemed horribly confused. She’d get dreadfully upset if I left her alone, even for a few minutes. And I struggled emotionally with the intimate care she needed help with," Jane writes. She remembers those days when her own mom called her "mother" not knowing that she is talking to her daughter. Though it was painful, Jane never corrected her.
She wanted to bring back her witty, smart mother. "From the day she moved into my Surrey home, my approach was simple — I would focus and build on what she could do and, above all, maintain her dignity. That meant chatting to her constantly about what I was doing when I got her dressed or prepared a meal; insisting she let me help her onto the toilet rather than rely on nappies, and putting her daily newspaper in her hands whether she felt like looking at it or not," the caring daughter writes.
"How different Mum, who’s 94, is today compared to four years ago when she was in a care home and declining rapidly. Back then, she’d lost the ability to read and write, had been put in nappies, and wouldn’t have known what to do with the tea towels she now carefully folds into neat squares."
Jane had sold her business networking company to take care of her mum and did not regret it at all, because the drastic improvement in her mother's health was more rewarding than everything else she had worked for. "Mum has improved is an understatement — she can read and write again, chats to her old friends on the phone and rules over what we watch on the TV," said Jane.
The caring daughter was all the more surprised when she scored 20 on the Mini-Mental State Examination that is used by NHS to asses patients with impairment. "People don’t tend to increase their score in this test, which is why her GP is so stunned by it," said Jane.
However, despite the visible improvement in Beth's health, her daughter also knows that it is impossible to cure her of the condition. Though she notices her mother repeating herself numerous times and making up stories and scenarios in her head, Jane is happy that she brought back her mother's dignity. "I treat my mum like the quick-witted, intelligent woman she has been. That’s why I never correct her when she gets things wrong — I think that would only knock her confidence and set her back," said Jane.
Taking her time to be there for her mother and her needs came with a cost. However, Jane does not regret any of her decisions. "As well as losing my career, caring for Mum has also impacted on my relationships, both romantic and with friends, because my time is devoted almost entirely to her. My sister lives abroad, which adds to my feelings of loneliness at times. But I wouldn’t have it any other way," said Jane.
Jane says it is the little she could give back to the woman who raised her. "People say: ‘Aren’t you marvelous’ when they hear how I’ve devoted myself to my mother — and the success we’ve had. But the truth is, she was an incredible mum to me, so really, it’s a privilege to have the chance to pay that back," says Jane.