I recently visited a family friend, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia a year ago. I had heard that he was a greatly diminished person, so I was almost prepared for the man who greeted me.
But I certainly wasn’t prepared for his tired and careworn wife.
Here was a woman in her eighties who has the sole care of someone who is now only able to shuffle around on sticks, has no recollection of recent events and gets agitated when his routine alters.
Freda says that she has a truly supportive GP, has her husband’s Attendance Allowance in place and a stair lift due to arrive any day now.
All their physical needs were in place, but what of Freda’s emotional needs? She was at a loss to know where to turn for support, even though there is advice out there.
Living with dementia
Freda is but one of tens of thousands of family carers who look after the 800,000 people who live with dementia in the UK. Fortunately, she has now been able to organise a couple of hours a week where she is not solely responsible for Trevor and she feels slightly more able to cope with the sad and stressful changes in their marriage.
People like Freda have prompted us to ensure we have specific advice about living with dementia on the Which? Elderly Care website. We also list useful organisations and websites to guide people to the many charities and organisations that support people with dementia and those who look after them.
Befriending services for carers
Not least among these are the Alzheimer’s Society and CarersUK, who organise befriending services for carers. Sunday 14 September is also National Dementia Carers Day organised by Dementia UK and the Alzheimer’s Society, which is a day aimed to further raise awareness of the needs of family carers of people with dementia.
Do you care for someone with dementia? Do you know someone who does? I’m keen to hear of your coping strategies and what further advice or support you feel could be provided by organisations like Which?.