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Back from retirement (ok not quite)

Hello friends. I am back from retirement. For those who know me personally, I have been very quiet at the work front in the past three years. I seriously thought I would retire and be a lady of leisure.. yes a bit like this:

Of course we all know the reality is not like this at all.

In the last three years, I had the most important client in my life: my mother.

My beautiful, highly articulate, capable and fiercely independent mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease for a number of years. Using this blog as an opportunity, I hope to shed a light to our lives as adult children, living thousand of miles (or kilometers), helping to coordinate care for our elderly parents. For someone whose cognition is gradually deteriorating, it has been challenging and down right emotionally draining to say the least.

Due to mum's dementia, mum's willingness to eat her usual meals began to fluctuate. Fluctuates means refusing dinner all together at some nights, at times, many consecutive nights. As any good clinician would do, a dietitian was called in. Yes - I refer mum to myself. I implemented nutritional care process for my mother. From collecting data to assessment, implementing nutritional therapy to training mum's two carers remotely, and liaising with mum's geriatrician. I even did a 28 days rotational meal plan with nutritional analysis of the meal plan and the rest of it. For the last two years, my mum was unable to tell her carer what she likes to eat anymore, neither can mum recall the names of a food in a supermarket. I was essentially my mother's case manager/dietitian. At one point, mum would require 'company' to eat. So I would dial in every night at 6 pm to 'eat' with her via video link.

Morning medication video call also became a daily affair as mum would simply refuses to eat, or spit the medication down to the toilet. My mum also decided that daily shower is no longer required. So working with support workers, occupational therapy and physiotherapy become essential. Managing mum's two care workers also became my daily 'stand-up' meeting and at times full on performance management meetings.

Without boring my dear reader further, the above is a glimpse of my last three years, not to mention looking after myself and my family. Yes - violin practice and maths teaching is not my definition of relaxation.

As a dietitian who has worked in Aged Care Unit for many many years (I am talking about you, Liverpool Hospital), my clinical experience was not only in dietetics. I have a close up look at other health professionals in action. These include geriatrician, social worker, occupational therapy, wound care nurse, physiotherapist and case coordinator to name a few. The management trainings that I received have been invaluable. Even with all these specialised training and professional knowledge, I felt out of my depth sometimes as I really don't know what to do when mum refuses to bath or wash her hair for the entire week. I just have to accept and work out some possible strategies with mum's carers.

So here I am, three years later. Hopefully with more insight into caring for people with dementia, as a dietitian and a daughter.


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