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Karen’s story: "Admiral Nurses are worth their weight in gold"

Karen explains why her and her sister and mum decided to leave a gift in their Wills to Dementia UK.

Trevor and Karen

Trevor and Karen

My mum and dad were married for 60 years, and my sister Nicola and I have always lived at home. You might say it is unusual, but we have always been a very tight family unit. I would have described us as the four musketeers – but now we are three.

My dad, Trevor, was really funny and was always making us laugh. He and Mum would dance rock ‘n’ roll when they were younger, with Dad channelling his inner John Travolta!

Nicola and I have many special memories of going on family holidays, including to Butlin’s and on cruises. Dad was in the Army and would proudly wear his uniform jacket to dinner on the cruise ships.

He was a very proud dad, always putting his family first and making us feel like we were top of his list.

Trevor and Karen

Trevor and Karen

Signs of dementia

We started to notice signs of dementia around 2014, when Dad began acting differently. He became forgetful and was meticulous about small things, like having his clothes laid out for him.

Sometimes Dad would wake up in the morning and get changed to go back to bed, thinking it was night-time. Mum would be up a lot with him in the night, trying to settle him.

Dad was eventually diagnosed with vascular dementia. Up until about 10 months before he passed away, he was still doing quite well and would regularly go out on bus journeys. But he started to deteriorate more rapidly when he had a few falls. One fall was very bad, and he ended up breaking his neck and being admitted to hospital.

Meeting Admiral Nurse Sue

At this time, we were put in touch with a local dementia specialist Admiral Nurse, Sue. She was very calming and was able to put us at ease. She would always keep us in the picture about Dad’s condition when he was in hospital.

Eventually, Dad passed away with dementia in hospital in 2019. Sue visited the house a few times over the following months and reassured us that our emotions about Dad passing were completely normal and that it was fine to feel this way. She was a great support to us during this time, and even came to his funeral.

We would all advise anyone who has a relative with dementia to get in touch with Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurses.

How we supported other families living with dementia

After Dad died, we took part in a Time for a Cuppa event for Dementia UK, raising over £1,000. Through my work as a dance teacher, I also organised a show to raise money for the charity.

My sister, my mum and I have all decided to leave a gift in our Wills to Dementia UK, along with a few other charities that are close to our hearts. Dementia affects so many people now, and more and more people are being diagnosed with it. By leaving a gift in my Will, I hope more families can receive the support of an Admiral Nurse – they are worth their weight in gold.

My motto in life is, ‘Life’s not a dress rehearsal’, and you’ve got to enjoy it in the moment. That’s what Dad did. He had a great life, and we have so many memories to look back on. Leaving gifts in our Wills is to remember our dad and is just one way in which his legacy will live on.

If you would like to find out more about leaving a gift in your Will to Dementia UK so no one has to face dementia alone, please request our Gifts in Wills guide.