An unlikely friendship

When my mother went to live in a warden-assisted flat, I was her only carer nearby. I soon got chatting to other residents in passing – I get this from my mother who would talk to anyone anywhere. As my mother’s dementia became apparent, an elderly lady took me to one side and told me that if I found my visit difficult, I could pop up to her flat for a cup of tea before returning home. Such a thoughtful and kind gesture.

After one visit I remember phoning my brother in the dark from the car park, tearful and emotionally drained. This must have been hard for him too, as he lived so far away. Realising that I could not go home in this state to my daughter, I took the lady up on her kind offer and it was such a help to me.

Being able to talk to someone when you have just dealt with a very traumatic experience was the best medicine. The difference in our ages was forgotten and long after my mother had died, we would go out for a meal or I would take her to an appointment. We developed a firm friendship, which lasted until her death. Having someone nearby who understood and whom you could talk to face to face was what helped the most.

If you know of someone who is caring for a person with dementia, perhaps you could now and again just ask them how they are and invite them round for a cup of tea. All you need is to be there for them and a good listener.