Dear Editor. I have just read a post that was passed to me by friend who is a member of your Twitter page. The post was about those with dementia and prison issues. This was an interesting post as I am going through some hard times at the moment with my Dad. His son is in prison, who is my brother, and Dad has dementia. He isn't in the late stages of dementia, but he isn't in the early stages either. Those with family members with dementia will probably understand what I mean.
My Dad was of sound mind when his son was sent to prison. He is a lifer by the way.
The whole situation made him ill and I don't think he has ever got over it. Can I just also say that the lack of support for those with mental health illnesses and prison issues is ridiculous. We couldn't find any support anywhere, so to anyone reading this who does support prisoners families, my message to you is to start looking in this area because with over 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK, there are families like mine who desperately need that support.
He went to visit my brother a few times and that made him ill too because he couldn't bear walking away from him after the visit. When my Dad was diagnosed with dementia, he spoke little of his son. When I asked him he his son had rang, he said no, although my brother had rang. On one occasion, he called his son a bas*ard and this upset my brother no end. But I tried hard to explain that this was Dad's illness and that he never meant what he said. My Dad has now moved in to a care home for his own safety because he had began wandering the streets in the middle of the night. When I go to visit Dad which is three times a week, he sometimes mentions his son, but it is in a hateful manner. Sometimes he remembers that his son is in prison and sometimes he refers to him as still being at school. Dementia is a terrible terrible illness that's for sure. Over the past week, he has been mentioning prison to his carers and told them that he had been in prison, which is not true. What he really means is that his son is in prison. Whilst I am on this side of the fence so to speak, it is very very difficult explaining to my brother how Dad's illness is getting worse. No one from the prison has sat with him to discuss his Dad's illness which in all honesty I think they should because we are grieving for Dad even though he is still here. One of the most difficult things of being a prisoners family member was explaining to the carers about the prison obsession Dad has. My family has always had a good relationship with the care staff so we were anxious as to how they would look at us knowing that Dad's son is in prison for a terrible terrible offence. It has been and still is such a difficult and awful time for our family. More support should be provided in this particular area. Thanks for allowing me to get this off my chest and thanks for publishing stories that really matter to families of prisoners. Please keep my name private. Thank you all. Anonymous.