Nina Warhust admits I felt guilty after fathers dementia diagnosis

Nina Warhurst shares her ‘guilt’ at feeling ‘cross’ with father

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She joined BBC Breakfast’s Jon Kay and Sally Nugent on Monday morning to discuss the documentary she made with her sisters which looked at her father’s diagnosis. It also looked at the impact on her family and how it changed her and her sister’s lives becoming carers. She admitted she felt “guilty” when she occasionally got angry with her father over trivial things.

After looking at the mini-documentary, Nina spoke about their journey and the impact her father’s dementia had on the family.

Jon asked: “I guess the first question is kind of why was it so important for you and your sisters to tell your dad’s story?”

Nina admitted: “I think there are two reasons.

“The first is that we were surprised at how hard it was, his parents had dementia, he was prepared for it and he expected it.

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“His house was in order, his paperwork was in order, and we thought that transition would be as smooth as it could possibly be.

“But first of all the diagnosis, so from the early signs that something was wrong, it’s a protracted process because they are monitoring someone’s deterioration over a certain period of time.

“If they drop considerably in that time it is stressful for the family and it becomes quite dangerous so that was really hard, she explained.

Nina continued to explain: “But on top of that you are taking over another adult’s life. You are taking over their phone.

“Their car insurance, their dental appointments, their audiology, so all of that life admin falls on your plate and some organisations were supportive and helpful and empathic.

“And some it was like banging your head against a brick wall. The collective mass of stress was huge, the grief of losing the person you love, you haven’t got time for that.”

Discussing the impact on her personal life and her father’s personality change had on her, Nina expressed: “We have been fortunate that my dad has never gotten angry.

“I know that can happen with different forms of dementia, but he didn’t understand it was happening.

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“When we had conversations about changing the set-up, maybe giving some respite care he thought nothing was wrong.

“Having to tell little fibs all the time just broke your heart but it was in his best interest. There were times when ‘if I don’t fib to him to get us over this hump, we are not going to get there’.

“And he would phone me 10 times a day, saying ‘I need you to come round’ and then I’d get there and he would say ‘What are you doing here?’.

“At that point, it is hard not to be cross and that was the surprising thing, I felt really guilty because I was getting angry with him.

“I was taking it out on him and I had two tiny kids at home that I wasn’t seeing as much and I wasn’t focused at work, there are these ripples that then go through your family as well.”

Jon praised Nina and her sisters for their unitedness and added: “You have been fantastic though. We have known about this and the way you have been and looked after him.

“It has just been remarkable, and it is what anybody would want their family to do for them.”

BBC Breakfast airs everyday from 6am on BBC One.

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