Carers stories – Ray and Irene

After 2 years of doctors’ appointments and deteriorating health Irene was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It was then that Ray found out about Carers Support Centre from his GP.

One of our GP liaison workers met Ray and Irene at their home and completed a Carers Assessment. This included applying for a carers breaks payment, giving advice about local support groups and referring Ray for a Carers Emergency Card and to our sitting service. But, perhaps just as importantly, she was able to give him time and listen to how he felt.

Ray was struggling to come to terms with Irene’s diagnosis and wanted to find out how he could help his wife as her condition deteriorates. They have been married for 48 years and, for the last 3, Irene has been a totally different person: it has been heart-breaking for him.

Ray was also grieving for his own loss of independence. He had always travelled extensively for his work. He also loved to play golf and meet with old friends from the rugby club. All this had stopped, and he was finding it very difficult to adjust. Friends were not able to deal with Irene’s outbursts of anger and her low mood; and she couldn’t be left alone. Ray was feeling very low and becoming more and more isolated.

Ray also has his own health problems: he is a type 2 diabetic and suffers from fibromyalgia, experiencing constant pain in his joints, especially his hands.

Ray, however, is pragmatic about the future. With our help he was able to gain a lot of information about the support available. As a result he now regularly takes Irene to a Memory Café, to an Alzheimer’s Society group and Singing for the Brain.

We have also been able to match Irene with Barbara, one of our volunteer sitters. Once a week Barbara takes Irene to a local craft group, which Irene very much enjoys.

Ray said: “The sitting service is a lifesaver. It is just 2 hours a week, but you can put up with an awful lot if you know that you can get a break. It’s the only time I meet up with friends I’ve known for 50 years. Barbara is a very creative person and Irene always seems to be quite happy when I get back in. Just recently Barbara has got Irene knitting again. She has always enjoyed art and craft work.”