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At the beachA day out with the elders on my birthday. Both are widowed. My father-in-law has vascular dementia and my mother has Alzheimer's Disease. 

By Chris Crowstaff, founder of Safe World for Women.

World Alzheimer's Day, 21st September 2015.

I've now become used to Mum forgetting who I am from time to time. Asking where my dad is. (Dad passed away nearly seven years ago).

I've become used to her asking if her own mum is still alive (she passed away 16 years ago).

I've become used to her sometimes forgetting where she lives. Getting stressed if she feels responsible for anything.

I've become used to answering Mum's questions in different ways, depending on her state of mind, her mood and the situation.

I'm realising that the words I use are often less important than remembering to smile. And to try to stay calm myself.

With Alzheimer's Disease, facial expressions become extra important. People with Alzheimer's can be very sensitive to facial expressions and moods.

Mum is still at a relatively early stage of Alzheimer's. She as yet has none of the physical problems associated with the disease. She's physically very fit. Though, because of the confusion, she does need help sometimes with dressing and bathing.

I've become used to unpacking various assorted, random objects of ours that she packs in her bags. Or sometimes in a cushion-cover. And to Mum asking if slippers are the right thing to wear to the shops.

Mum doesn't understand that she has Alzheimer's. Reassuringly though, she herself has become accepting of the fact that she feels confused and relies on family to help with daily tasks and to help explain things.

In a way, things seemed more stressful for us at the earlier stages when Mum was insistent that she could cope and didn't need any help.

Mum comes to stay with us at weekends, which will continue until the granny annex is built - then she will hopefully live here with us. We at least now have planning permission to go ahead.

Meanwhile, our son lives with her. Mum is beginning to realise that she is not going to be alone in her bungalow and is reassured by that and is increasingly grateful to her grandson. She really enjoys his company.

Mum by the seaWe feel blessed that Mum is naturally a cheerful woman. She is content to be 'in the moment' and to appreciate her surroundings, wherrever she is.

Wherever we take her, she enjoys. A walk by the river, a trip to the shops, a drive around in the car, a simple meal out. A windy, wet, Autumnal journey to the seaside.

And she always tries her best to thank everyone and to be helpful.

The other day, we took her to buy a new cheap watch in a big factory shop. After we'd paid, she turned to the woman at the checkout and said, 'Thank you so much. That is so kind'. Actually all the woman had done was to take our money. But for sure she appreciated Mum saying how kind she was.

As I write this, Mum is washing our dishes.

I realise we face a journey into the unknown. But life is always a journey into the unknown. All we can think for now is that we want to do the best we can for our widowed parents.

Mum continues to care about the world, though blissfully unaware of current news. She cares about people and wants them to know that. When I went to say goodnight, I asked her if she has a message for the refugees. This is her response.

Message for refugees


Part 1 - A Journey With Mum - Called Alzheimer's

Part 2 - Expecting the Unexpected - Alzheimer'sExpecting the Unexpected - Alzheimer's

Part 3 - Alzheimer's - Looking on the Bright SideAlzheimer's - Looking on the Bright Side

Part 4 - Love, Joy and Alzheimer's - A Day With My Mum

Part 5 - Dementia and the Importance of Family

Part 6 - The Second Hardest Thing I've Done