In this story: Carer / COVID-19 /

"Right now, let’s all embrace a human to human kindness"

“Whit’s the matter, yer no smiling the day? You no very happy?” Mum says this every day at the kitchen table. She is in her wheelchair, with a cup of tea whilst I check the latest coronavirus reports and stories about the spread of this fearful virus.

Jeanie is 89. She’s had dementia 12 years now. She’s in the severe stage and no longer knows I’m her daughter. But despite all that, almost in defiance of dementia’s debilitating advances, she can still sense emotions. Accurately! On the flip side, she can also tell when I’m happy as I’m usually smiling or pulling funny faces. But it’s much harder to read a serious face, never mind respond with appropriate phrases when finding words that go together was a skill lost years ago.

It’s all the more heart breaking that we are told this coronavirus greatly threatens those my mum’s age. ‘Mainly the old and the vulnerable,’ they said, as if that made it all right. It’s an attitude with which many of us who care for our elders are familiar.

We have an NHS to try to stop people dying before their time, regardless of their age. Yes we all must face the inevitable one day but when science can help, this is a good thing! How much more confident would we be if we had seen our precious NHS and social care funded fully and properly? That might lessen our worries about the NHS being overwhelmed and doctors having to make horrific choices.

Mum’s words of clarity are a contrast to her usual foggy brain soup, but they offer hope. Like inspiring stories – jewels among the dark news. In times of crisis, unexpected things happen. The underestimated become our heroes. Despite their fears, brave NHS and care workers go to help others. Those previously regarded as unskilled now lauded as key workers. Scanning shopping at the supermarket check-out is now a dangerous job.

Just as mum retains her ability to care, retired hospital staff are returning to their vocation.

Thousands are volunteering. Is it in our DNA – helping those in need? Right now, let’s all embrace a human to human kindness that even dementia struggles to destroy.”

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