There was not a dry eye in the house when I saw a recent staging of Brian Daniels play Don’t Leave Me Now, which explores the impact of early onset Dementia and family life.
Brian’s inspiration for writing this came from two families he met, both of whom were caring for and supporting loved ones living with a Dementia in their own homes, and he tells the stories of their journeys with both insight and humour.
‘The play is subtly powerful, sympathetic and sharp, sad and funny ........... where Dementia is the villain, words are priceless,
Howard Jacobson, Booker Prize winning author (New Statesman 2016)
Having my own Mum at home living with Vascular Dementia aged 96 (and a half!,) I shared their every emotion, the never ending roller coaster ride which we find ourselves on, the smiles, the tears, the memories, the fatigue, the guilt, the sheer weight of responsibility, constantly questioning yourself, are we doing the right thing for Mum? Waking up each morning not knowing quite which Mum will be with you today, lovely Mum who is grateful for everything and everybody or angry, frustrated and sometimes aggressive Mum who questions whether she has a family who care about her at all, even when we have just taken 2 weeks off work to help care for her.
And my tears really started to flow when in the play, the families have to take the agonising decision when they can no longer practically care for their loved ones at home, and one relative judges the other family for choosing that their loved one should live in a care home, only to end up in the same care home later on in the play!
As we wrestle with our own consciences about what’s best for Mum, there are differing opinions in our family about where Mum will receive the best care, stimulation and quality of life, because after all its about the life in your days and not the days in your life isn’t it?
We had had a particularly bad night with Mum the night before as Mum’s nights and days are becoming more and more blurred and we are in a phase of disturbed nights with Mum up and about, wandering, heartbreakingly asking for and looking for Dad, her beloved husband, who died 11 years ago. Carers are becoming exhausted and quite rightly concerned about both their own, as well as Mum’s health, safety and wellbeing, in such a demanding role.
And when we call the doctor out, apart from slightly low blood pressure, she is apparently physically very fit!
So my emotions were raw and I absolutely got this performance and could relate to every word and feel what those families were experiencing. I can highly recommend seeing this play, if you are living with or supporting families affected by Dementia.
Don’t Leave Me Now is endorsed by all major Dementia charities including Dementia UK, The Alzheimers Society, Dementia Pathfinders, Cruse Bereavement Care and Hospice UK.
It is a valuable resource for in-house staff awareness training, performed by professional actors and professionally directed and adaptable to all spaces with no staging required just 6 chairs.
For more information contact Brian Daniels at [email protected] or 07749 372333.