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In 2011, Alex* was diagnosed with dementia.

Sandra cared for her husband Alex for 10 years in their own home, before Alex moved into Pinetree Lodge, one of our specialist 24-hour dementia nursing homes.

When Alex first started to become ill, Sandra noticed changes in his behaviour. Alex became more forgetful and suspicious, he also had mood swings and lost his temper more often than usual.

Searching for support

For a while, Alex was supported three times a week by a day unit for younger people with dementia. He enjoyed going at first, but after a while he became upset and went missing from the day unit. Alex also went missing from his home over the Christmas period, which worried his loved ones enormously.

When Alex became too old to attend the day unit, he was supported by another local service, but he became very upset when he did not recognise the venue or the people with him. Alex left unaccompanied and was very distressed, as he believed the staff who were encouraging him to return were trying to kidnap him.

Alex became more and more unwell. He started to become aggressive towards Sandra, who was finding it very difficult to care for him at home. Sandra explains:

“I was never frightened of Alex before then, but I had become wary of him. The guilt was horrible.”

At the time, Sandra was also trying to manage her own mental and physical health. Sandra had breast cancer and was also worried about her finances, so she was trying to get back into work.

‘A weight has been lifted’

It was around this time that Alex moved into Pinetree Lodge, one of our specialist 24-hour nursing homes. Sandra explains:

“I felt very guilty that I could no longer cope with caring for Alex at home, but also like a weight had been lifted.

Alex settled in very quickly and the team understood how to manage his difficult behaviours. We soon got to know all of the staff and other residents. Everyone says ‘hello’ when I visit.

I was worried that Alex’s health would go downhill, but the team at Pinetree have reassured me that they’re always here to support our family, every step of the way. I can’t fault the team at all, whatever you ask for, nothing is ever a bother. We’re kept very well-informed and included when it comes to Alex’s care, the team always update us when it comes to GP and consultant reviews.

The Covid-19 lockdown was very hard, but in a way it was a blessing, as it allowed me to accept the fact that I don’t have to be there all the time because I am always kept informed.

If I could give someone who is in the same situation as me some advice, it would be to get all the help you can from the start – instead of plodding on by yourself. Everyone is different, you don’t know at what rate their illness will progress, you just need to take each day at a time because you don’t know what it will bring.”

*All names have been changed for privacy

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