Widow calls for more support for people affected by dementia after husband’s five year battle with Alzheimer’s

Wendy Daniel lost her husband to Alzheimer’s aged 68. Picture: Ian Burt

Monday, May 19, 2014
6:30 AM

A widow has called for more support for dementia patients and their families after being the sole carer of her husband during his five year battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Wendy Daniel lost her husband to Alzheimer’s aged 68. Picture: Ian Burt

Wendy Daniel, of Cranworth, near Dereham, lost her husband, Bill, to dementia last year.

However, she said the man she knew had died four years before his death after the disease robbed his ability to talk, eat and perform every day functions.

The 66-year-old, who is now a volunteer for Age UK Norfolk, has pledged to help other families affected by dementia following the death of her husband last March at the age of 68.

Mrs Daniel said she felt isolated and cut off after her husband’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2008.

The former RAF air frame mechanic set up a sewing machine servicing and sales company when the couple moved back to Norfolk 15 years ago.

She said her husband first started displaying the signs of dementia three years before his diagnosis after finding it hard to write and wandering off.

Mrs Daniel said it was heartbreaking to she her husband’s condition deteriorate.

“It is a very hard life for both. You see your partner change into a different person and you lose the person you married. The person I married died about four years before he died. In the end he could not feed himself or wash himself.”

“You feel isolated. The illness makes them speak their mind and people tend to shun away from you. In the last year of his life, he could not talk properly. He knew what he wanted to say, but he could not say it. He could get aggressive and frustration causes aggression. It is hard for carers, because you do not know what is going on in their minds.”

“I looked after him myself and when I became disabled, I still looked after him all of the time,” she said.

Mrs Daniel said that when her husband was first diagnosed, a physiatric nurse came around once a month, but left them to it after three months, and his consultant only visited him once when he was ill.

She added that she struggled to get social services support for Mr Daniel when she collapsed in Norwich in 2010 and was taken to hospital with a leg injury.

“There was no support or there wasn’t for us. I looked after Bill 24 hours a day despite becoming disabled myself. We did get a personal budget from social services which enabled me to pay for a gardener and cleaner and petrol to take Bill out for he wouldn’t stay at home I had to drive miles everyday to keep him happy.”

“The only support available was by the Pabulum Cafe at Wymondham, which was very good, where we were able to go twice a week, although it was hard to keep Bill’s interest. In the last 3 months of his life he did agree to go to day centre a few times but was not happy about that which made me feel guilty so I never really enjoyed the few hours break I received.”

“All social services wanted was to section him which would have made his last years awful and I wouldn’t allow that.”

Mrs Daniel added that there needed to be more support for younger people with dementia.

“People seem to think that Alzheimer’s is an old persons decease, but they are wrong – any age can get it which makes it so awful when a healthy younger strong person is struck down.”

“They have not got the facilities for young people. When you are in your 60s, you can not relate to people in their 80s and 90s. There should be groups for young people because care homes are for elderly people,” she said.