In this interview we meet Karen, who generously shares her personal experiences as a caregiver for her husband who has dementia…
With one in two people now being diagnosed with dementia, many of us will – at some point or another – find ourselves in the position where we’re caring for a loved one.
Karen became a caregiver to her husband Mike when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 53 years old. Since then, Karen has been navigating what their new normal looks like as she cares for her husband and daughter. Although the journey is not always easy, they have been able to raise awareness around the challenges of living with dementia through their involvement with Relish’s Dementia Choir – with Vicky McClure – which brings Mike a lot of joy!
How do you support Mike to maintain his independence?
We really want to keep him at home for as long as possible. Every day is different, so his abilities will change from one day to another, so we have to adapt to him.
How do you help Mike to find calm?
A mix of activities and medication has really helped with this. Structure is also very important for people living with dementia, it will really help to keep everyone involved calm.
How do you keep your relationship with Mike strong?
Dementia will change your relationship, you begin to feel more like the caregiver than the wife. It is hard to understand why they cannot do the things that they used to, but it is for us to understand them now.
What brings Mike joy?
The choir and music brings him so much joy, I do not know if he would be the same if he did not have his music. Find them something that makes them truly happy that you can tailor to their abilities.
He loves to have a bit of a giggle. He loves watching ‘70s tv programmes and his favourite is Only Fools and Horses. And he doesn’t want to sit and watch tv on his own – he likes to have the interaction with people. He also loves the garden in the summer, when he can watch the birds.
So I think it’s about making sure you keep that line of communication open with them and don’t just sit and leave them to their own devices.
Relish creates products and resources to improve the wellbeing of people living with dementia. They believe that you can still live a fulfilled life after diagnosis, which they hold to be true not only for the person living with dementia but also for their loved ones.
To help people living with dementia and their caregivers, Relish has launched a Dementia Wellbeing Hub that shares tips on how to improve everyday wellbeing from fellow caregivers and people living with dementia.
To find out more from Karen or to listen to other tips and advice from the Relish community, explore their Dementia Wellbeing Hub.
A note from The Joy Club: This interview was provided by Relish. We have chosen to share it because we believe that it may be of interest to The Joy Club community. Relish has not paid us to feature this article, nor will we receive any payment if you decide to join Relish. We think their work is meaningful and wanted to share it with you. Thank you.