A guest blog from Alzheimer’s Society
For World Alzheimer’s Day (21 September) we speak to Chris and Roger Wood a couple from Sussex living with dementia who Alzheimer’s Society have been supporting through lockdown.
Alzheimer’s Society is the UK’s leading dementia charity, working tirelessly to challenge perceptions, fund research and improve and provide care and support. Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Alzheimer’s Society has temporarily replaced face-to-face and group services and increased online and telephone support. There are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and this is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.
We spoke to Chris and Roger Wood, who live near Billingshurst in West Sussex about the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. Roger, 75, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease four years ago. His wife Chris, 68, supports him to continue living with as much independence and variety as possible.
While Roger isn’t as gregarious as he was before his dementia diagnosis, he still enjoyed getting out and about. He would go to the Men’s Shed, play petanque at Shipley, and sail miniature boats on a local lake. Lockdown has stopped these simple but essential pleasures. His age has meant that he’s needed to self-isolate, and the couple have had to find ways of spending their time at home.
Alzheimer’s Society has been there for them in several ways. The charity moved their monthly Focus on Dementia Network meeting online to Zoom. That meant that Chris and Roger could take part as a couple. They could also see and hear how other people affected by dementia are coping during lockdown.
They also get a call from an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Adviser every two weeks to see how they are both doing. Chris also takes part in a Zoom carers group. Once, when she was too busy to attend, the co-ordinator called her afterwards to check if everything was OK. “It was an act of such caring”, said Chris.
She feels that all these activities are great, but the main help is the feeling of support.
“The feeling that there is always someone to turn to. The feeling that I don’t have to do it alone. That is huge”