Dementia: The Brains Trust, Episode 5 – Mike, Bob and Christine Scott

When Bob Scott moved into a retirement home, the Post-it note on the fridge said it all.

“My daughter’s name is Christine.”

Christine Cole was Bob’s sole carer when he moved into a retirement home in 2013 and was manifesting signs of dementia.

“I cleared out his house and I could see how much he was struggling. He had notes everywhere about what to do. He was probably 70 when dementia started, he wasn’t coping and he couldn’t remember things,” Chris said.

For most of his life, Bob Scott lived alone and became a “lost scared soul”.

His son Mike said: “He was paranoid about his neighbours and thought people were trying to take his money or trying to get him out of his flat – that’s classic dementia.”

Mike’s childhood was fraught. He lived in fear of his father, who was violent and an alcoholic.

“I’d often go to bed and you’d be listening to this argument, listening for what the problem was to see if I could solve it. He was never violent to me, my brother or sister, but there was some aggression that was physical towards my mum.

“One night my dad drank whiskey, he got weird and violent and chased mum out of the house with a knife.”

When his parents separated, the 15-year-old teenager says it was the happiest day of his life.

As Bob’s health deteriorated, he leaned more on Chris for support – she was the oldest and had moved back to Invercargill with her family.

“Was I resentful having to shoulder that responsibility? Yes, I was,” Chris says.

“This came from my childhood where I had to look after my brothers and help them as best as I could and then I was looking after my father.”

Mike feels guilty the burden of looking after his father was left up to his sister.

“Dad died with dementia. The fact my relationship was non–existent meant I was unable to care for him.

“It’s something I regret now, that I could’ve been a better person when he got sick.”

Dementia: The Brains Trust – The full series

Supported by NZ On Air

Episode 1 – Deborah and Anne Pead: ‘She’s my mum and I love her – but mentally there’s nothing there’

Episode 2 – Warwick and Pummy Hickling: ‘In sickness and in health’ – the love story of Warwick and Pummy

Episode 3 – Care villages offer new approach: Can’t see, can’t hear, no balance – Mike Scott learns what dementia feels like

Episode 4 – Rita Marx and the Māori way: ‘I think everyone could see my mum had dementia except me’

Episode 5 – Mike, Bob and Christine Scott: ‘My daughter’s name is Christine’

Episode 6 – Mike Scott’s MRI scan: ‘This MRI scan could tell me if I’ll get dementia. Do I want to find out?’

Where to get help

If this content has raised any concerns for you, please see your GP or contact:

Dementia New Zealand
0800 433 636
Email: [email protected]

Alzheimers New Zealand
0800 004 001
Email: [email protected]

• If it is a medical issue and you need advice, call Healthline on 0800 611 116.

• Call 111 in the event of an emergency.

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