Caring for someone with dementia - Video

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Caring for someone with dementia (Video file)

Caring for someone with dementia

Oxleas governor Angela Clayton-Turner talks about caring for her husband, who has Alzheimer's Disease.

Hello, I’m Angela Clayton-Turner and my husband Ted has had Alzheimer's Disease for the last 14 years.

In 1995 Ted began to have problems with his memory and eventually had to leave work because of them. We’d been married seven years and he was just 57 years old.

In some ways I was lucky. In the 1970s and ‘80s I had worked as a physiotherapist in a psychiatric hospital and in community mental health teams so had some knowledge of dementia. We also had a very good GP who referred Ted to a neurologist who carried out tests that showed that Ted had dementia. This early diagnosis was crucial – GPs sometimes diagnose dementia as depression which can delay treatment. Ted was prescribed dementia drugs which really boosted the quality of his life.

At that time I saw myself as Ted’s supporter rather than his carer – he could wash and dress himself – and we both just got on with our lives. His dementia was fairly mild and we decided to be positive and have as many good times as we could manage. We flew on Concorde, went on a fabulous holiday cruising in Alaska and had my 60th birthday party on the Orient Express. We also took a number of canal trips on hotel narrow boats. These were great as the boats were operated for us.

In 2004 things started to change. Ted’s dementia accelerated and by the end of the year his condition was deteriorating fast. My role had changed from supporter to carer. A few days after Christmas he became very confused and following a trip to our GP we agreed that it was time to admit Ted to Green Parks House in Bromley.

Ted is now in the last stages of dementia, in a local nursing home. I visit him several days a week to feed him lunch. One of the most important ways I have coped with his illness is by taking a proactive approach. This has included acting as Ted’s advocate with his doctors and other healthcare professionals, and becoming an Oxleas governor.

I also belong to an informal carers’ group which has been an important source of support. I think it’s really important to be able to share your experiences with people who are in the same boat as you. In the early stages of Ted’s illness I desperately wanted to meet someone locally who was also a spouse of someone with dementia - rather than a daughter - and I think the carers’ groups across the trust can play a vital role in putting people in touch with each other.