According to her husband, Ray, there were signs of Barbara’s dementia a couple of years before she was diagnosed. She was struggling at work and had lost interest in preparing meals.
Diagnosed with depression
She agreed to go to the doctor who suggested she receive treatment for depression. When there was no improvement she was referred for an MRI scan and the consultant said she “almost certainly” had Alzheimer’s disease. She was only 57 years of age.
The hospital put Barbara and Ray, in touch with the former charity, YoungDementia UK, which provided a support worker, as well as access to their café and social events. Ray said: “Barbara especially enjoyed the dances and it didn’t matter that she had lost her co-ordination by then, as everyone was tripping over their own feet!”
When Barbara was unable to pour herself a glass of water, Ray decided to retire early to care for her full time. As Barbara’s dementia progressed Social Services arranged for daily help with personal care, as well as giving Ray a much needed break from time to time. Out of the blue Barbara had an epileptic fit and Ray realised he could no longer care for Barbara at home. The GP who was called out at the time advised Ray he had two care options: a local psychiatric hospital or a crisis bed in a care home. Ray reluctantly decided to put Barbara in a care home.
Slept in a chair
The average age of the care home residents was around 90 and Barbara was then only 62 and much fitter. She did not settle in the home very well and would wander around at night eventually falling asleep in a chair. She refused her medication and help with personal care. Social Services helped Ray to find a more suitable home where Barbara has settled in a lot better, enjoying their singing and music sessions. “The plans for a specially designed home with a care package tailored to each individual’s needs sounds very good. Everybody is affected by dementia differently so it’s important there’s not a one-size fits all solution. The important thing is that people are diagnosed earlier, so they can get the right support to take part in activities in the early stage of their illness.”
** Barbara’s story is true, but her name (and her husband’s name) and image have been changed to protect their identity.