Christine’s story

Caring for someone with dementia during their final days and moments can be some of the most difficult times for families. Christine experienced this with her beloved father, John. She is thankful to have had Admiral Nurse, Kellie (pictured right), by her side at this complicated and emotional time. Here is Christine’s story:

My dad, John, was diagnosed with vascular dementia in November 2017 at the age of 87.  He was a haulage contractor by profession and was so well liked by family, friends and neighbours. He had a smile for everyone and was always offering to help others. 

Kellie, Admiral Nurse

As he was so independent, we didn’t know everything that was going on. He’d leave the gas on or he’d forget to close the car door, for example. It’s things like that which all add up in retrospect.  

The tipping point for us was the end of the year in November when he became very confused. Two months before that, his diabetes became out of control. Sometimes he’d forget to take his insulin completely and other times he’d take it twice, causing his blood sugar levels to drop and make himself ill.  

When I came to visit him at home one time, he must have had a nasty fall as there was blood everywhere. He was vague and he didn’t recall what had happened. He was sent to the hospital at this point.  

Within three weeks of being in hospital, he just didn’t know us. He would even say that a number of relatives had dropped in to visit him, including my mum; all of whom were dead. The Consultant assessed him and said it was vascular dementia because he had a lot of risk factors being diabetic for a long time as well as the symptoms and the rapid deterioration he had.  

We arrived on the ward one day to find him behaving completely out of character, shouting at the ward staff, setting alarms off and trying to escape, threatening to break the windows. This wasn’t the calm and kind dad I knew. He must have been so afraid given the changes that were happening in his brain.    

Shortly after, I was visited by an Admiral Nurse. I hadn’t heard of Admiral Nurses before this happened to my dad.  

My Admiral Nurse Kellie made me realise that dad’s health was the most important thing in the world. She said he should have access to better care, particularly as he was approaching his final moments due to his rapid physical and mental deterioration and wanderings. After Kellie spoke to me and my brother, it was clear that a nursing home was the safest option for him due to his 24/7 care needs.  

This move required a huge amount of liaison with the medics and ward staff, something which we would have struggled with. They would actively ask for her advice and she could liaise with them in a way that our family wouldn’t be able to.  

Through Kellie’s help, and the support of the palliative care team, my dad was moved to a nursing home with specialist dementia care. Just over a week after he got there, he died peacefully with his family around him. 

Kellie is still available after my dad’s death. She said that if I want to talk about anything then I only have to let her know. When she talks to you, it changes how you feel about things. There’s an awful lot of guilt faced by families, especially as you can’t alter the course of dementia. For us, it was the fact that my dad could have died on the hospital ward without any peace and quiet. It was so important that my dad had a peaceful death; Kellie was pivotal in making this happen. 

Gifts left in Wills to Dementia UK will help fund more Admiral Nurses to help ensure families like Christine’s get the specialist dementia support they so desperately need.  Find out more here.

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