My mother has always been a relatively forth right person and freely spoken her mind. When realising that perhaps she might have over stepped the mark in voicing such opinions and causing offence she would quickly make light of the situation with a smile and joke to try to lessen the blow. However as her vascular dementia increased so too did the sharpness of her opinions and the loudness of her voice, which would see me lowering my head quickly and telling her in sharp tones to keep quiet immediately.
Most weeks I would take my mother out shopping which used to be an enjoyable experience, however I noticed over time she developed two favourite expressions which she took great glee in whispering in a theatrical way to ensure all could hear. The first was the more expensive and exclusive a shop the better for her to say “Catriona, really you must put that down now, you KNOW you can’t afford it” which left me bright red and feeling very sheepish, regardless of what the item was. The second was whenever we sat down for the obligatory coffee, she would say “Look at that woman over there, she is so FAT, how could she let herself get like that” and the poor lady in question would definitely have heard.
Many of my mother’s observations were infact perfectly true but clearly it was the dementia taking hold as she would never have voiced them before. Her lack of inhibition grew from expressing exactly what she felt to expressing it with expletives that I didn’t realise my mother had ever heard of before let alone used. From this stage we then progressed to an interesting phase of her stripping off her clothing to emphasis a point. The first time she did it I was completely shocked as she was being perfectly coherent in expressing her views and it was if the articles of clothing that were flying off were the punctuation marks. However it wasn’t so bad when she was fully dressed, but when she wasn’t wearing many items of clothing it all got a little too much for her audience….By understanding what was happening to my mother I didn’t find it upsetting as I kept and still do keep reminding myself that this really isn’t her or the person she was and try and accept it as a condition of her illness, which for me make it much easier to cope with.