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17 May 2017
David Wiles, 77, has been the primary carer for his wife, Brenda Wiles, 76, who suffers from Vascular Alzheimer’s since February 2015. The Bedfordshire resident says that without respite services he would not be able to cope with the high needs of his wife’s care.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of Dementia affecting people in the UK. The condition causes a consistent decline in all thought processes and in Bedfordshire, it is estimated that there are almost 5,000 individuals living with Dementia.
“My wife visits a Day Centre four times a week and it’s worth its weight in gold” said, the former Vauxhall employee, David. “Brenda looks for me when I’m not around her and I’m constantly checking what she’s doing in case she hurts herself.
“Respite stops me worrying and without it, I wouldn’t be able to cope. The thought is dreadful but I’d have to move my wife to a care home after 56 years of living together”.
Social activities protect against Dementia and improve the quality of life of those already diagnosed but a survey by Alzheimer’s society in 2016 showed that only 35% of people with Dementia would go out once a week or less and 34% do not feel part of their community.
Dr Anthea Robinson, Bedfordshire GP, said, “Carers often breakdown due to exhaustion and it leads to hospital admission. It’s crucial for carers to be in a good place as it directly affects the care that is given. Social activities help Dementia patients so it’s a win-win situation”.
Brenda visiting the Day Centre for respite allows David to enjoy a game of golf with his son or do some gardening.
Mr Wiles added, “It gives her time to socialise. The staff keep her engaged and she has a nutritious meal. She doesn’t remember what she did but I’m at peace knowing her brain has been stimulated and it gives me a chance to switch off.
“Brenda and I attend group singing sessions for Dementia patients once a week and we visit the zoo afterwards. The respite relaxes me so we can enjoy quality time together”.
Approximately 6.5 million people in the UK are carers. By 2037, it's anticipated that the number of carers will increase to 9 million.
To find out about respite service in Bedfordshire refer to the Bedfordshire CCG Dementia Guide at https://www.bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk/page/?id=4178 or contact your GP.