I care for his wife, Mandy, who has Parkinson’s disease and dementia. I’ve been Mandy’s carer since we moved to Dorset back in 2004.
Mandy has good days and bad days, but I help her with a multitude of tasks each day including dressing and washing her and giving her medication as it is required. As well as this, I do all of the cooking and shopping and the majority of the cleaning.
Mandy had a replacement hip several years ago but needs her other side doing, as well as a knee replacement. As a result of this, Mandy can only walk a few steps and is in a wheelchair for the majority of the time. Thankfully, we live in a bungalow and with the help of some aids such as a door ramp and various equipment to help move Mandy, we are able to get by.
Mandy likes familiarity, it is part of her condition. A week’s stay in hospital last year was particularly challenging for us both.
Power of Attorney status
I have faced difficulties with my Power of Attorney status and ensuring that Mandy gets the best possible care that she can. Mandy was a lot more settled once she was back from hospital. However, our local community hospital has been a great support to us both since being discharged. At this point, I was encouraged to get a new, electric bed to help with lifting Mandy in and out of bed.
A point of advice that Paul has for people caring for someone is to sort out the Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare as well as Finances and Property, it should then cover the carer for every eventuality.
Unfortunately, one of the side-effects of Mandy’s medication is hallucinations. Mandy will often ‘see’ people within their house who aren’t there. This can be challenging if I tell her that they aren’t real as to her they are. Although, that said, I do approach it with a touch of humour to try and let it lighten the mood, especially when Mandy saw a big spider on our living room floor which I thought was a hallucination only to be proven wrong!
During the Covid-19 lockdowns, I felt well supported. There was a lot of support available locally and the Mental Health Older Persons team that support Mandy were very good at keeping in touch and listening to any concerns I had.
I haven’t been able to get out to join any local support groups and I don’t feel confident in joining online ones. That said, I have a good support network with our daughter, and I ‘Zoom’ her and the grandchildren regularly. I do miss the banter with my friends though and all the sports that I used to enjoy playing.
How I cope
I employ a carer to come in once a week to help me. This gives me a break to do something I love, fishing. This is something that I feel I couldn’t manage without as it’s my passion. It also gives me a chance to take my mind off things and chat to others fishing. I have looked into longer respite but feel worried about leaving Mandy for too long as she thrives on the familiarity of having me around.