Tuesday 21 May 2019

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to Cassandra Farren

This week is Dementia Action Week and to help raise awareness of this today I'm handing over to Cassandra Farren. Cassandra's latest book is called I've Lost My Mum and as the title suggests it tells her account of her experience with this heart-breaking disease.


I’ve Lost My Mum tells the true, soul-bearing, account of a daughter who wants to make a difference to those whose lives have been devastated by dementia.

Cassandra’s raw and deeply moving journey shares her own struggle for strength as well as invaluable insights into this invisible illness.

This heartfelt and compelling story not only provides a deeper understanding of this cruel condition but gives hope that it’s possible to find peace when someone you love is lost between worlds.

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                                 There’s no place like home?

When my mum was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, I had no idea about the harsh reality of this cruel condition. Over the next three years I watched the strong woman I once knew fade away into a stranger I no longer recognised.

As her condition declined, we knew we had to make one of the hardest decisions of our lives, a decision that that no family ever wants to make.

My mum had always been adamant that she never needed, or wanted, any kind of care. She was a young looking 71 year old, who despite her dementia, was still very young at heart.

She went indoor bodyboarding for her 65th birthday and would always be the first one to go down the Astroglide when we took my children to the soft play areas!

Sit down now! Look me in the eye and promise that you will never, ever, put me in a care home! I would rather die than be left in an institution. Tell me you would never do that.”

These are the exact words my mum said to me in April 2018. It broke my heart lying to the woman who I loved the most, as unbeknown her we had already booked her a room to live in a residential care home.

My dad had done the best he could, but it was no longer safe for my mum to live unassisted. 

On the 27th April 2018 I collected my mum from her house for the final time. She was totally oblivious to the fact that once she said goodbye to her husband and walked out the door, she would never return to the home where they had lived together for the last 30 years.

How do you cope with the guilt that consumes you following this decision?

I expected to be consumed by guilt as I waited in the care home reception whilst my mum was settling in. But it took me by surprise at how relieved I felt.  Yes, our lives were going to be very different from that moment on, but my mum was safe and that was all that mattered.

One year on, despite my mum not knowing who I am, I can hand on heart say that my visits to the care home have got easier. My mum has settled in extremely well and I know we definitely made the right decision.

I believe that home is no longer a place for my mum, it is a feeling.

Before she lived in the care home, my mum would often cry and say that she wanted to go home, even though she was in her own house. I believe what she really wanted was the feeling which she associated with home, the feeling of being safe. 

She is safe now, so she is home.

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Thank you for writing such a moving and personal piece Cassandra, it sounds like your mum knew how to have fun! I, like a lot of people reading this, I'm sure, will have had some experience of dementia and it is devastating to have the person you know and love be there - but not there - all at the same time.

                                                      Author bio

Photo courtesy of Cassandra Farren

Cassandra Farren is the author of four books. She is also a Soul Writer and mentors heart-led authors.

Her mission is to create a new generation of authors who collectively make a difference to the world, one book at a time.

You can find out more about Cassandra and her books by visiting her website here.


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