Alison’s life changed when her long-term partner, Philip, seemed to become very stressed and confused a lot of the time. He was eventually referred by his GP for a CT scan in 2009 and was subsequently diagnosed with Early Onset Dementia while he was still in his 50s.
“For the first 20 years or so of our relationship, I did not have cause to question any of Philip’s behaviour and, in fact, he was a very positive influence as he was such a calm and sensible person. However, over time, I started to notice that Philip seemed to be changing which I believed was due to extreme pressure at work. It started off with small things; we’d go to the pub with friends and he’d forget everyone’s orders when it was his round; he’d have trouble following recipes despite being a great lover of cooking; he’d go to the cash point and he’d turn to me and say, ‘Alison, I don’t know what I’m doing!’
Getting the right support
“Emotional support during those difficult times would have been so beneficial but I am aware there will be more challenges in the future so it’s very important that my Admiral Nurse, Rob, is there for me in the long term as Philip’s health deteriorates” said Alison.
“There were specific occasions in the past where an Admiral Nurse would have had a huge impact. For example, I remember taking Philip to an adult day care centre, but I was finally told that we were no longer welcome due to Philip’s ‘challenging’ behaviour. If Rob were by my side at this time, he would have recognised Philip as someone who was simply frightened and he would have ensured a more appropriate response.
“It’s great to be able to talk..”
“It is emotionally and physically tiring caring for Philip in the comfort of our own home and I find myself having to deal with a number of unnecessarily difficult situations, so it is great to be able to talk about my frustrations to a specialist who not only understands but can also use my experiences to help other people or to challenge the situation with the relevant parties.
Support makes a big difference
“There’s no denying that the reality of dementia is extremely tough but having Admiral Nurses like Rob does make a big difference. I no longer feel that I am dealing with this situation alone. My advice for anyone going through a similar experience is that Admiral Nurses can be there for you from the word ‘go’, giving you a fresh but professional perspective and all the emotional support and practical advice that you will need to help you to face the challenges of your loved one’s long-term illness.”