A WORTHING man has spoken out about caring for someone with dementia, in a bid to raise awareness of the disease.
Bert Kent, 84, of Centre Court Road, took on the role of carer when his wife was diagnosed two years ago, and says that dementia is a ‘hidden illness’.
He said: “It sort of seemed to happen overnight.
“After going to the dentist, she started speaking strangely and at first we thought it was down to the dentist.
“But then if I left her she became anxious and would have panic attacks.
“She was suspicious and had a negative attitude all the time which led to her being tested for depression initially.”
Mr Kent says that he feared that socialising would be impossible following the diagnosis.
“Then a friend told me about the Alzheimer’s Society,” he added. “The ladies from the society who sit with my wife while I am out are dedicated and trained for this task, and my wife accepts their company because they are not home helps, these ladies understand this illness.
“This not only gives me time out, but also gives my wife some quality time, for – as in many cases dementia sufferers are unable to socialise.
“Another friend told me about the ‘Carer’s Emergency Alert Card Scheme’. Emergency services know about this card, so in a situation whereby I am rendered unable to care for my wife, immediate care can be secured for my wife in my absence.”
The father-of-three, who takes part in a range of activities, says the support and backup that he receives keeps him sane.
He said: “Dementia sufferers still have a mind of their own, with any nasty natures in their past portrayed and magnified only to their carer.
“It is the carer who is the victim. They need relief, not help on how to manage and the NHS needs to know that they must not refer to the carer as a carer in earshot of the sufferer, for the sufferer in most cases still has a mind of their own.
“When my wife answered the phone and she was asked if the carer was there, it took some time for me to console her and I was the target for abuse.
“I only hope that anyone in the same situation as myself, unaware of the help available, reads this.”
Two Alzheimer’s Society workers from Worthing recently reached the finals of the Great British Home Care Awards 2014.
Ann Cotterell, 61, who has worked as a Home Care Support Worker for the last 16 years, won the Dementia Carer Award.
She said: “I am the sort of person who really likes to help people and make their life a little easier. I like having quality time with the diverse range of people we are helping because it gives you a chance to build relationships and get to know them.”
Sue Simpson, 52, was also nominated. She said: “I got into it because my grandmother had Alzheimers and there used to be a lady who would come out and talk to her, which I thought was brilliant. I have had many jobs in the past, but this is the one I have enjoyed the most. My favourite bit of the job is getting to know people’s backgrounds and their interesting histories.”