You look so confused. It pains me to see you this way. Let me just sit beside you and hold your hand. Please don’t get upset. I am your wife, you just don’t remember that right now. It was so hard at first but I am learning to accept it. When you ask who I am I just tell you my name.
Let me read you a story. You don’t have to try and remember. I just want to be close to you. I know things have changed. We can’t talk the way that we used to. Oh how I miss our chats and our hugs. I miss your crazy jokes. I miss walking along the beach with you hand in hand. I miss telling you my deepest secrets. You were always such a great listener and so supportive. You have been my best friend for the entire 42 years we have been together. You were always the one for me and you always will be.
It broke my heart the day I had to send you here. I wanted you to stay at home, really I did. Caring for you was so hard but I wanted you at home where you belong. They told me you needed to be here now. So I come and I read you stories. I hold your hand and I try not to cry when you ask who I am. Some days though there is a little spark in your eyes and it is like I have you back with me. It is like you remember me all over again. I can feel a little shot of energy when I hold your hand. I don’t tell the kids that though, they would think I was mad. They have been so strong. You are a granddad now. We have the most beautiful little grandson and we have another one on the way. His name is Sandy and he has the biggest blue eyes you have ever seen and the cheekiest smile. Oh how I wish you were at home to enjoy him. I wish you could rock him to sleep some nights when he comes to stay. It takes me back to those days when we became parents. Those crazy, beautiful days. You were such an incredible Dad. You were different from a lot of our friends. Our home was where your heart was. You stopped playing golf for years so you could enjoy our children. You would run around the garden with them for hours. You loved taking them to the cinema and always made sure we got the biggest popcorn. Then we would go for ice cream. Vanilla was always your favourite. The kids said vanilla were boring but you said original was the best. I bring you it some days. You still love it.
I still feel a lot of guilt. I feel guilty that you are in here, why couldn’t it happen to me? I feel guilty that I can’t do more for the kids and little Sandy. I feel guilty for that time in the kitchen when I lost it and threw a mug on the floor that smashed everywhere. I only wanted to make a cup of tea but you needed me constantly that day. When I finally got round to pouring it I lost it. I am sorry for that. I am sorry for the days that it all got too much when I was caring for you alone.
I will always be here for you. I made a promise – in sickness and in health. We were blessed with great health for so many years. Then a few years ago things started to change. I could see the signs but I tried to pretend it was nothing. I didn’t want to believe that I was losing you. I know you would want me to keep smiling. I know you always wanted to see me as a Gran. You wanted to be there with me too though. Some days I feel so angry that the world has robbed our grandson of such an amazing granddad. So much of you is wasted in this care home. You had so much more to do and so much more to share. You had so many more people to make laugh and touch with your infectious smile and loving nature.
Thank you for all the love you gave to me over our 42 years together. The very least I can do is sit and read you stories. I will love you forever my dear, in sickness and in health x
Mental Health Awareness week recently reminded us of how important it is to share and support each other. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia describes a set of symptoms that can include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These symptoms occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is a physical disease that affects the brain. There are more than 520,000 people in the UK with Alzheimer’s disease.
People who care for loved ones with dementia and Alzheimer’s have a lot of weight to carry on their shoulders. They need support. They need to be able to talk. They need time to get a break. Time to have a cup of tea or to leave the house and not have to worry about it. They need to be able to look after themselves too – to look after their physical and mental health. They need time to nurture their bodies. Let’s work together to make experiences of mental illnesses a positive force for change in society that will help families know they are not alone. The Alzheimer effect.