‘I’m working harder now than I was at work, I’m not having a retirement’
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Finding out that the love of your life has dementia is a devastating blow. To then have to become their full-time carer adds extraordinary stress to the grief.
That is what faces countless people - including Marilyn Palmer from Kirby Bedon.
Mrs Palmer, 65, has been caring for her husband Doug, 75, since his dementia diagnosis in 2013. Today, at the start of Dementia Action Week, she has spoken of how she is coping day to day.
She said: 'It took me longer to come to terms with Doug's dementia than it did him.
'When Doug was diagnosed with dementia I was grieving. People have been lovely to Doug since the diagnosis and they don't treat him any differently than how they did before.'
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The couple worried that if anything happened to Mrs Palmer they would be stuck as Doug is no longer able to drive and only six buses travel to their village each day.
'We've decided to move house because I'm working harder now than when I was at work, I'm not having a retirement.
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'We're moving to a specialist retirement flat in a more central location. The move will mean less housework for me and no garden to worry about.' Mrs Palmer added. I'll have more time to do things for myself and sit down more with Doug which will be nice.'
Mr Palmer said: 'It's been difficult for both of us, but particularly Marilyn.'
Life has changed tremendously for the couple since Doug's diagnosis. They can no longer evenly split the chores and Doug has lost a lot of his independence.
Mrs Palmer said: 'We've always gone away on holiday, but since Doug's diagnosis we go away to get that relief from the intensity of being at home.
'We used to fly but Doug was usually whisked away and I was left to run to catch up with all the bags. No one cares about the carers.
'Now we cruise. The staff on the ships are brilliant and look after both of us.'
Mrs Palmer was able to see a support worker but the funding has since been taken away.
She said: 'You have to stop yourself from comparing things to other couples and instead fight the negatives, I love Doug to bits.
'If we weren't moving I don't think we could carry on. It's too much, the dementia is hard work but the good thing is that we can talk about it. '