At home with dementia and Parkinson's
DESMA Mitchell took on her mother's care and with same approach to positive action, then decided to document the lessons she learnt from dealing with complicated medical conditions.
The result is her self-published book of tips; Living at Home with Dementia & Parkinson's Disease - A Practical Guide for Carers.
About half the book takes the reader through tips and techniques on caring for a elderly person who has dementia or Parkinson's. The other half details the range of resources available including support groups.
In 2012 her mother Beverley was diagnosed with Parkinson's. She was just 66. Then in 2015 Beverley was also diagnosed with vascular dementia.
The following year she had a stroke. "All this happened, and I had no idea what I was doing," Desma said. It wasn't long before Desma had to give up her sales representative job and take on full-time care of her mother.
"I didn't know anyone who had Parkinson's or dementia so I had nothing to fall back on," Desma added. "She was two years into retirement and we had moved to Coffs Harbour. She was all ready to enjoy it and then all of a sudden these diseases started."
Desma decided she needed to think outside the box to find techniques and ideas to make Beverley's quality of life better.
It was her mother's occupational therapist that planted the idea that Desma should record what she was discovering as she dedicated herself to 24/7 care for her mother. "I just laughed and said I am just a carer; I don't do much. But, once I started writing, I didn't realise until then what I did in a day."
It took three years to bring the book together, with Desma grabbing a few hours here and there at night after exhausting days.
Her top six steps for getting through each day were:
1. You have to have a routine.
2. Be patient and flexible.
3. Live in the moment.
4. Keep things simple.
5. Show dignity and respect.
6. Offer kindness and love.
For more information on the book, go to dementiacareathome.com.au