It doesn’t matter what you put in place and how hard you work at it, it always breaks down. You know it’s only going to be temporary. You don’t feel you can keep anything together because everything you do just falls apart.
My father had cognitive impairment from 2008. My mother loved looking after him and he loved being looked after and then she got Alzheimer’s herself three years ago.
My father’s condition has declined very slowly and my mother’s condition has declined incredibly fast. She lost the power of speech and was confused, quite aggressive and disorientated.
"I haven't seen him dance for years"
I got an email from my local Carers Trust Network Partner saying: 'We think that you are a carer for somebody with dementia who could benefit from a reminiscence group'.
I found it the most incredibly wonderful space for two hours a week where I could be with my dad while my mother was at her fantastic day centre.
I could have been having the most rubbish day and everybody else had had rubbish days in one way or the other but we just sat and laughed. Seeing my dad dance, I haven’t seen him dance for years, or listening to him sing.
Or this guy who’s really quite confused but who’s the most amazing pianist and who’d just sit down and play the piano and we’d all sing whatever he played.
Sorting out residential care
My mother got to the point where she was falling over all the time and it was clear she needed to go into residential care. There were all sorts of issues about what we were going to do about my father. Now they’re in residential care together and it’s self-paying. We had to sell their property and my father’s very upset.
I know every carer journey is different but many journeys go through most of the things I’ve gone through. It has changed the way I am with my patients. If I detect that somebody’s a carer then I’m very clear about referring them so that somebody contacts them. Sometimes you need people to reach out to you as well.