Living with dementia – Bill’s story

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Sue Buckle

When Mary was diagnosed with dementia, her husband Bill decided that this was a private matter and that he wouldn’t tell their friends.  He tried to hide her declining abilities and found it hard to cope with the changes.  Bill came to the realisation that he could either ‘hide’ at home with Mary, or embrace the changes, and together, live as full a life as possible.

Bill was often frustrated by Mary’s continual questions, and found if he showed his frustration, Mary would become very agitated – it then took quite some time for her to settle down.  He found it was easy to give her a simple, quick answer to her questions, without contradicting her.  Every day, Mary wanted to go out for coffee, even though they may have just arrived home from such an excursion.  Bill learnt to say:”OK, I’ll be ready in half an hour”, with a big smile, and Mary would settle down quickly!

Looking at old photos and videos was a source of great joy for Mary – her old memories were strong, and she enjoyed reminiscing.  She also enjoyed seeing her friends and attending concerts.  Mary was still able to participate in all the activities that she had enjoyed in the past.

Bill made a few changes in the house to make sure Mary was safe, and to help her with daily tasks.  He left the coffee cups near the kettle; he made sure that the spare key was in a key safe near the front door; he put important phone numbers beside the phone; he also knew not to have the television too loud as this made Mary agitated. Bill’s children wanted to rearrange the house and move Mary and Bill’s bedroom; however Bill resisted their help as he knew that Mary couldn’t cope with changes.

The biggest thing that Bill had to learn was to accept help.  Friends and family were happy to give assistance whenever they could, and he also had a regular care worker from Just Better Care come to the house to be with Mary so that he could take a regular break. If Bill hadn’t looked after himself, he wouldn’t have been able to care for Mary at home.  

Caring for someone with dementia isn’t easy.  It may be the greatest challenge that a carer faces in life.  With the right support, it’s possible to enjoy life for as long as possible. If you would like more information about how Just Better Care can provide support, ring 9484 8788.
________________________________________________________________________Sue Buckle is a Registered Nurse and owns and operates Just Better Care Hills District

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