Support for those caring for someone with dementia

Ann Maxwell, 75 from Carlisle, cares for her husband, Robert, who has dementia. Ann has shared their story to help others in a similar position and help raise awareness of the support available for carers in Cumbria. 

Robert, 86, known as Bob, was diagnosed with dementia in 2015. Bob is a member of Carlisle Cricket Club and often went along to help out before his diagnosis. He would take his dog, Connie, along too and they would often walk for hours. Ann began to notice the early signs of dementia when Bob became less able to do the things he enjoyed. She put this down to aging but as the symptoms developed they visited the GP who agreed a memory test would be a good idea. The test showed that Bob had dementia and as a result he was referred to the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) Memory Matters team. 

Ann, a retired nurse, knew about dementia but wasn’t aware of the support available to her as a carer. She has since been introduced to a number of organisations who can help.

“I consider myself very lucky due to all the support I’ve had since Bob was diagnosed, from different organisations as well as my family and friends. The memory matters team told me about a weekly group that they run for carers of people with dementia at Carlisle Library. It’s really informal and gives me the chance to ask any questions or share any concerns. It’s also really helpful to meet others who are going through something similar and talk to people who really understand.

“I try to stay upbeat but I think it’s normal to have some down moments and I can feel guilty now and then if I lose my patience. It’s times like that where the Memory Matters Carers Group can lift my spirits, especially in the early days.”

“I’ve attended a couple of information days organised by the Alzheimer’s Society and the DSDC where I learnt more about the condition and help available. I learnt about things such as finance; they told me that we were eligible for a reduction in council tax and an attendance allowance and showed me how to apply.” 

“I’ve also had support from Carlisle Carers who have given me a Carers Emergency Card following a Carer’s Assessment. This means that if anything happens to me, they can quickly arrange short term care for Bob.”

Support available

  • The Memory Matters Carers Group at Carlisle library runs every Monday (excluding bank holidays) from 1.30 – 3.30. It is aimed at anyone who cares for someone living with dementia or early signs of memory loss and offers support on a range of issue. 
  • Carlisle Carers provide a range of support and advice for carers – more information is available at www.carlislecarers.com 
  • Alzheimer’s Society offer support including weekly Singing for the Brain at New Waterton Hall Thurs 1.30-3.00pm and a monthly Dementia Café, also at New Waterton Hall, on the second Wednesday of the month 10.00-12.00pm.  Carlisleoffice@alzheimers.org.uk 
  • DSDC is an international centre of knowledge and expertise dedicated to improving the lives of people with dementia. They provide a range of training including study days for family carers: http://dementia.stir.ac.uk/education/training-directory/family-carers-information-and-training 
  • Age UK Carlisle and Eden also provide a range of advice and support for carers including groups, how to access benefits and local services. They offer two Dementia day care groups in Carlisle for early onset dementia, offering a safe, stimulating day for those starting their dementia journey, respite for careers, as well as information and advice. http://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-and-advice/