September is World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign every September to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia.
Here’s Rosie’s story, who cared for her husband Den who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“I found the Carers’ Centre about six years ago –I was referred by my GP. I was caring 24/7 for my husband Den, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and on top of that I had a very difficult full-time job. There was a week when I had come down with a cold – just a cold – and it was just the absolute end of the tether for me. I was exhausted. I didn’t know what to do with Den or how to manage being unwell for a few days. I think that was the point for me when I thought I needed to get some support.
“The first thing the Carers’ Centre did for me was to send me to Ammerdown, a wellness centre, for a 24 hour respite. It was just incredible. I had a bath. I went for a walk. It sounds silly but when you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, telling them you’re going up to have a bath doesn’t mean anything. It’s just not possible.
“It was a very positive initial experience for me, being able to have that respite, and it’s gone on from there. Now I’m very involved with the Centre and its work and I have come on board as a trustee.
“I went to carers’ forums, had first aid training – all these things would not have been possible without the support of the centre.
“The peer support was a big thing for me as well – just to see other carers in different situations to remind you that you’re not alone or isolated. People can tell you that they know about Alzheimer’s but until you’ve lived with it 24/7, you don’t know. Speaking to someone who really does understand makes all the difference.
“Without the Carers’ Centre I would have really struggled. Their help meant I could keep working for a much longer period of time. It kept me sane and it allowed me to have my own life.
“It’s now come full circle really where now I am working with the Centre to help other carers and to help people understand they’re alone.
“The Centre really gave me the tools to cope – to make things better, and to make things easier. It has enhanced my life.