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Denise’s story: "I called the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline and felt understood"

After Denise’s mum Bertha was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2017, she reached out to the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline for support.

Denise mum, Bertha, at Denise’s wedding

Denise mum, Bertha, at Denise’s wedding

Christmas has always been about family. Mum was the eldest of four and we would always spend Christmas at a relative’s house. Christmas lunch was always homemade with all the trimmings, and Mum used to dress the turkey. She would also make a traditional Christmas fruit cake and Christmas pudding every year, and we would play card games and sometimes even do ballroom dancing!

I have many fond memories of my mum at Christmas. One year she made a Christmas cake with my daughter while I was at work. They were so excited to show me when I got home that my daughter picked up the tray and the cake hit the floor! Thankfully it stayed in one piece, and my daughter and I still laugh about it to this day.

Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2017. The few months after her diagnosis were awful. I got to the point where I just couldn’t cope anymore. The feeling of helplessness was overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn.

My health started to deteriorate. I couldn’t sleep, I was always tearful, and I didn’t feel like I could talk to anybody.

When I called the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline, I broke down. I shared all my worries and for the first time, I felt listened to and understood. It was such a relief. The nurse talked to me like a human being and spoke to me on my level, taking my nursing background into account.

One last Christmas with Mum

Following the call, I was put in touch with Deborah, a dementia specialist Admiral Nurse in my area. She visited me at home, and we just sat and talked. She took time to understand our background and family history. She wasn’t just a support for me and Mum – she was a support for the whole family.

When Mum had a nasty fall and ended up in hospital, the doctor suggested that we move her to a care home. I knew it was the right decision to keep her safe. Deobrah supported me and helped me throughout the process of moving Mum to the care home. She was a great emotional support to me too.

Mum was settled in the care home by Christmas, and we were able to enjoy one final Christmas with her. We made the day as special as we possibly could in the care home and put lots of photos in a frame for her so that all the family was there in spirit.

I’m so glad we were able to spend that last Christmas with Mum and I’m so grateful to Deborah for helping us make the transition into a care home a little easier for us all.

Saying goodbye to Mum

Soon after, Mum’s health started to deteriorate further, so I got back in touch with Deborah. Knowing that she was there at the end of the phone, and that she understood what I was going through, was invaluable.

Mum passed away in January 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Caring for my Mum was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but Deborah made that journey easier. Without her, I wouldn’t have been able to cope.

Sometimes, all you need is someone to understand what you are going through and to empathise. I always tell people how Admiral Nurses can support the whole family, and encourage them to call the Helpline. If I can help even just one person, it will be worth it for me.