At first, he just seemed to be losing his short-term memory, but as the weeks went by his behaviour became more and more erratic.
It began to be difficult to take him out to places where we used to go, such as restaurants and cafés, as he would make rude remarks about people’s appearance or about what they were doing.
If we were with a group, Peter would indulge in really attention-seeking behaviour, such as stealing people’s spectacles if they had put them down on the table or taking their scarves from the back of their chair and hiding them.
He thought he was being funny, but had lost the ability to judge whether or not this was appropriate. This was alright if we were with people who understood, but it did not go down well with others, and I became anxious and worried about what he was going to say next, and who he would offend.
Peter was shouted at a couple of times, which I found very upsetting. I began to avoid taking him out anywhere if I was not sure that the staff there would accept him and understand his dementia. At home, I often became very tearful as I felt that I was on my own, dealing with something that was taking over our life and changing it very much for the worse.
Meeting people who wanted to help
I started going to carers’ cafés and it was at one of these that I was introduced to an Admiral Nurse and told that they could help us. Until that point, I had never heard of the Admiral Nurse service. My GP referred me to the team at the Douglas Macmillan Hospice near Stoke-on-Trent, and at last I met people who really cared about us and wanted to help us.
We were no longer just another dementia statistic. To them, we were real people that they really cared about. That made a huge difference to me as my horrible feeling of being totally alone started to lessen. In fact, whenever we went to the hospice to take part in the wellbeing days that the Admiral Nurse Team had set up, it was like being drawn in from the cold and being wrapped in a warm blanket.
Helping Admiral Nurse, Wendy with her Time for a Cuppa event at the hospice
Our Admiral Nurse, Wendy Mountford, often spoke about Dementia UK, and her gratitude to them for the training and support that she had been given. Wendy was amazing and was a huge emotional support for me, so when she was organising her Time for a Cuppa event at the hospice, I chose to support her. On the day, I provided some raffle prizes and looked after the teas and coffees.
Wendy’s event came a couple of days after my husband’s funeral which was a sad and lonely time for me. It really came at the right time to lift me out of that feeling, and I was able to meet up with Wendy and her team of volunteers to feel part of the support network again.
I know I was lucky to be on the receiving end of such strong individual care and I will continue to support any event which could help fund more Admiral Nurses like Wendy. Time for a Cuppa is a fun way to raise money that will not only support the training of new Admiral Nurses, but will also help to develop the free Helpline service that can be accessed by anyone.