She seemed fine in the first respite. It was an old people's home and they always make me a little uncomfortable, because I don't think sanity can be spared sitting around staring at floral wallpaper all day.
The word they use to describe her mind was that it was "deteriorating". She had just had it confirmed that she had dementia. I don't think she was actually aware, and I can't tell if she is now. I read that people who have Dementia are often unaware of their memory loss, and every time I see her now she just looks confused.
Occasionally recognition passes across her eyes and for a moment there's fear. But then it passes and she becomes again a vessel for a deteriorating mind. She can talk about her memories when asked about them or prompted, but she can't hold a conversation.
My mum moved her down South near us which is sad because she's always lived in the North, but then she doesn't go outside so I don’t think it matters to her too much. I think the worst thing would be and is probably for her, the boredom.
The home she's in now is a nursing home, because she needs the constant care. I went to see her this weekend. She was taken into hospital because of renal failure. Part of her dementia means she forgets to eat and drink so she had to go in for fluids. I travelled down to see her because my sister asked if I could, and I don't think she would have asked me to if she didn't think it was serious. I never realised you could die from having dementia - it never occurred to me. I just thought dementia meant losing part of your memory.
My sister says she probably has a few weeks left; she's been moved back into the home out of the hospital, but it's for end of life care. She's so tiny now, this frail little thing peering over the covers, but not even peering because her eyes have always been bad and she can't really see.
How are you feeling today?, we ask Alright. Are you glad to be back in the home? Yes. No more than one word replies, she smiles. I sent her a postcard which arrived while I was there and she nods at the Albert Docks on the front - I don't know if she knows what it is or whether she's just humouring me. She gets tired and closes her eyes, I think our company irritates her. So we leave, kissing her lightly on the cheek.
Dementia affects one in six people over the age of 80, but it isn't something which only affectsolder people. Learn more about how individuals can be affected by memory loss in our current exhibition, Lesions in the Landscape, open until 22 November. For more information about the causes of dementia, and how to help someone you think may be affected, visit alzheimers.org.uk or dementiafriends.org.uk