Remembering what’s really important
‘‘We all need to walk in another person's shoes once in a while.’’
A story written by a caregiver at a local rest home about a man with dementia affected one of the judges so profoundly, it inspired him to visit his own grandfather.
Maxine Mathews saw a poster advertising the Victory Books Amateurs Writing Competition and decided to enter the short story category and write about someone with dementia. It won first place.
Entitled ‘‘I’m Confused’’, Mathews said the story was inspired by all the people with dementia she has cared for during her five years at Oceania’s Victoria Place rest home in Tokoroa.
Mathews said her story wasn’t based on any one person but on the struggles of many individuals dealing with the disease.
‘‘They don’t understand what’s happening to them – especially during the early stages.’’
Mathews own brother-in-law was diagnosed 18 months ago, ’’He does day stays at Victoria Place, but eventually he’ll require fulltime care as the disease progresses.’’
She said ‘‘What he goes through changed him [from] the person I once knew, to someone completely different.’’
Mathews said the disease ‘‘robs the families of the person they know,’’ and it was hard for them to look after someone like that at home.
She said her short story took her about a week to write and had a lot of support and encouragement from the people around her.
‘‘I thought ‘what do I have to lose?’’’
She said if her short story helps even one person to have a better understanding of what it’s like for someone with dementia, then she will be delighted.
‘‘If one person reads it and it changes the way they understood what a person with dementia is going through then I have done well.’’
Mathews said that people should never fear or be judgmental about putting family members in a rest home, because the staff were so ’’caring and compassionate’’.
She said the topic of her story comes from the love of her job, and said she would have no problem putting her own family members into a rest home because she knows the amount of care that is provided.
‘‘We all need to walk in another person’s shoes once in awhile. I hope my story helps someone do that.’’
Health care assistant Maxine Mathews has written an award-winning story about dementia. Maxine Mathews