No one wants my sick darling dad

No one wants my sick darling dad
by Fiona Phillips, Daily Mirror 12/11/2011
By Thursday I was spitting with anger and emotion at the lack of support for people in the later stages of the disease, following a harrowing week in which my 76-year-old dad, who has Alzheimer’s, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and ­threatened with being sectioned under the Mental Health Act as no one could handle his symptoms.

On Monday a huge team from Hampshire police searched for him after he went missing for eight hours (thank you PC Tom Wrenn and team).

That night he was admitted, as an emergency, to a specialist Dementia Care Home, with the most amazing committed staff.

By Thursday morning I had an urgent phone call to say they couldn’t manage him because he had periods of aggression and they were at risk.

Wandering, ­aggression, elation, incontinence, the complete loss of understanding and the ability to speak are all dreadfully distressing, but common side-effects of thiscruel brain disease, yet when they occur even the ­professionals sometimes shy away.

If he had cancer, had suffered a stroke or a heart attack there’d be a whole pool of care and sympathy,but with Alzheimer’s there’s stilla gross lack of ­understanding, resulting in the sufferer, not the disease, being blamed for ­uncontrollable behaviour.

No one really wants dad now, apart from us, his family, who lack the space, the time and, to be truthful, the heart to have him with us, knowing that his disease will ­eventually drive us all insane, no matter how much we love him. It is a guilt that accompanies me wherever I go, having also had to resort to professional care for my mother who died of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

My dad, a middle manager who was made redundant in his 50s, began showing symptoms about eight years ago.

We were preoccupied with my mum so didn’t notice he was deteriorating. He was acting oddly but we thought it was a reaction to Mum’s illness.

I know from my postbag that there are thousands of families similarly affected. I know it must be a living hell for the sufferer. I know it’s costing the country £17billion a year – just in the last few days the police, social services and the NHS have been heavily involved in my dad’s case.

I know he would rather be dead than here as he is.

But I also know that the only reason a cure for this cruel disease hasn’t yetbeen found, despite the UK boasting some of the world’s top scientists, is down to a scandalous lack of research funding.

It HAS to change. For all our sakes. And in memory of those who already can’t remember who they are any more.

fiona phillips