Sussex woman shares diary about caring for her husband who has dementia

AN AUTHOR caring for her husband with a progressive form of dementia has shared her diary entries about their life.

Geraldine Durrant from East Grinstead is a former journalist and children’s book author.

She first met her husband Patrick when they were children and the couple celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day this year.

As of 2021, Geraldine, 72, has been a full-time carer for Patrick after he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia.

The Argus: Patrick and Geraldine as children. Photo credit: Geraldine DurrantPatrick and Geraldine as children. Photo credit: Geraldine Durrant

After his shock diagnosis, Geradline used her writing skills to create an online journal to record the struggles and emotions she’s been feeling since becoming a full-time carer.

The blog is aptly named Midsummer Madness as 78-year-old Patrick was diagnosed in June.

She said: “Nothing like terrible is wasted on a writer. I started journaling when he was first diagnosed as it helps take things away from me.

“After reading stories from caregivers online, I realized that if I shared them, others could see their struggles in our own and feel less alone.

“So I did it and changed our names to James and Georgina to initially protect my husband’s privacy, which has remained.

“It’s not all doom and gloom, it also discusses light-hearted things that happen in our lives as I try to inject humor but portray reality.”

The Argus: Patrick and Geraldine on their wedding day. Photo credit: Geraldine DurrantPatrick and Geraldine on their wedding day. Photo credit: Geraldine Durrant

Geraldine has been blogging regularly since last September, discussing the ups and downs of her and Patrick’s experiences.

Her latest post recounts his confusion after the Queen’s death, writing: “James, a former military man, has been glued to the TV for days.

“But he was utterly bewildered by the endless coverage, which alternated between news of the monarch’s recent death and video footage of her very much alive, healthy and waving…”

Geraldine says the writing helps her come to terms with the couple’s circumstances.

The Argus: Patrick and Geraldine. Photo credit: Geraldine DurrantPatrick and Geraldine. Photo credit: Geraldine Durrant

She said: “Putting pen to paper helps me deal with the grief. His diagnosis caused a big ripple in our pond and we felt on our own from the start of this journey.

“I was surprised that we weren’t summoned by the GP after Patrick’s diagnosis.

“It took a long time to get used to the system. So if the blog can steer people in the right direction during their trying times, I’ll take that small win.

“Patrick was hospitalized with an infection for five weeks recently. They promised to send him to a local nursing home for rehab while we put together a care package.

“But they didn’t send him to my home without a care package and I couldn’t arrange a care package as there were no caregivers available.

“I was under the impression that my husband would have been hospitalized indefinitely, so I used a significant amount of our savings to pay for him privately and get him into a local dementia ward. What is evident is that there is very little official support.

“It would have been cheaper to send my husband to the Caribbean for two weeks than to recover at home.

“It would be one thing to care for someone with dementia if you were fit and in your 20s, but I’m an old lady with a couple of replacement joints.”

The Argus: Patrick Durrant. Photo credit: Geraldine DurrantPatrick Durrant. Photo credit: Geraldine Durrant

Geraldine decided to share her journal entries this month to mark World Alzheimer’s Month and to help others in similar situations.

Left to Cope Alone: ​​The unmet need for support after a diagnosis of dementia, was a report published by the Alzheimer’s Society in July.

It revealed that more than three in five (61 percent) of people living with dementia in the South East felt they had not received enough support over the past 12 months.

A second survey of 1,000 people living with dementia, also released earlier this year, showed more than half (54%) of carers reached a point of crisis in the last year alone, with families unaware of the support available .

This put people with dementia at risk of going to hospital with preventable conditions such as falls or urinary tract infections, putting unnecessary pressure on the NHS.

The Argus: Patrick Durrant. Photo credit: Geraldine DurrantPatrick Durrant. Photo credit: Geraldine Durrant

The Alzheimer’s Society is now asking each primary care network to use government funding for primary care support functions to provide at least one dementia caregiver in their area.

For dementia support and advice call the Alzheimer’s Society on 0333 150 3456 or visit alzheimers.org.uk.

You can read Geraldine’s journal Midsummer Madness here:

https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/22421287.sussex-woman-shares-diary-caring-husband-dementia/?ref=rss Sussex woman shares diary about caring for her husband who has dementia

Fry Electronics Team

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