Alf’s story

I suppose I first started noticing symptoms of Mary’s dementia in 2012.

Mary had been sick and wasn’t responsive at all. She started talking incoherently and we think that it was this delirium which eventually led to vascular dementia.

Watching Mary behave in ways which she had never done before was particularly heart-breaking. For example, Mary was never a swearer but there were instances where she would curse me and others around her. Given this drastic change in your loved one’s life, you want to get an assessment from a specialist as soon as possible. However we reached a stage where no one could tell us what was the underlying cause. As a family, we all felt we were left in the dark.

Alf and Mary Howarth

After being referred by my social worker due to the emotional strain I was facing, I was introduced to my ‘Angel’ Anna Bennett – an Admiral Nurse for the Tameside area. As a family, we all took to Anna straight away. When Mary was diagnosed with dementia through a memory clinic, we received no specific diagnostic help. However Anna offered advice on what the diagnosis meant and more specifically what the diagnosis was and the science behind it. To have this kind of tailored advice has been absolutely amazing.

Throughout the challenges, I always felt that I could call on her support whenever. She went straight to the heart of my problems and listened to my concerns. Anna also provided me with amazingly helpful tips I simply wouldn’t have known about without her. She regularly reviewed the way I look after Mary, stressing that people living with dementia can get overwhelmed. Following Anna’s advice, I made sure that I always spoke simply and directly to Mary and was always careful not to overfeed her.

Even though Mary has sadly passed away, the impact that Anna had on our lives was profound and I will continue to sing her praises.  I hope that every family facing dementia, who is currently without an Admiral Nurse, will eventually find their ‘Angel’.