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Linda’s story – My dad and his dementia care

We had the pleasure of speaking with Linda, who’s been with Elder since January 2021. We currently provide care for Linda’s father, Raymond, who’s 90 and living with dementia. Their current primary carer is Florence. 

My dad, Raymond, has always been a smart, strong, independent man. He worked for the majority of his life as a mechanical engineer, most notably for the Army and then London Transport, responsible for an overhaul of the ticket machines across the city. 

He’s always been good with his hands and his mind, so when we noticed he was starting to become more forgetful, misplacing and losing things around his bungalow which he would not normally do, we became worried.

Slowly, more and more abnormal things kept happening. He was leaving the front door unlocked overnight and wasn’t eating or looking after himself properly. He had been getting a visit from an hourly carer every morning to check in on him, but when discovered from cameras around the home that he was spending all night sitting up in the kitchen, we realised this wasn’t enough. 

Despite his short-term memory getting progressively worse over time, our father still maintained his mobility and independence and we wanted to prioritise this when deciding how to go forward. We decided having someone in the home to keep him safe and prompt him to wash and eat while giving him his own space would be the ideal situation for him.

We never considered a care home as an option for Dad, partially due to the impact COVID-19 has had on them, but mostly because we felt he’s mobile and able enough to stay in his own home as long as he can. He is a shy, quiet man, and we knew he would not speak up for himself if he needed help in that kind of environment. We feared if we put him into a care home that he would become one of many.

Before exploring live-in care, his grandson lived with him during the week and he received daily visits from myself and my brother, Paul, on the weekends. We knew this care schedule was unsustainable for our family, and was really hard on all of us. It took a lot of time in our lives away from our partners, other family members, and jobs. 

We first started looking for a full-time live-in carer in Autumn of 2020, and I found Elder online and gave them a call to inquire about their services. Giles, a Senior Care Advisor, spent an hour on the phone with me listening to absolutely everything about my dad, from his personality and career to his difficulties now and what we are looking for in a carer. I greatly appreciated him letting me spend so much time talking through our situation and telling him everything about Dad. After our conversation, he sent over three carer profiles for us to choose from, and we went ahead with care starting in the beginning of January.

All of the carers we have had with Elder have been brilliant, I cannot fault any of them. They are very tuned into Dad and his needs, and their open communication with me and how he is doing has been key for us. It’s such a big thing for Dad to have someone new living in his home, but it’s also a big thing for our family having to acknowledge and accept the fact that Dad can’t live on his own again without potentially coming to harm. 

Our carers consistently communicate with us openly about his well being and any areas of concern they see, which has helped us come to terms with our new reality much more smoothly and comfortably. Our Family Support Specialist, Jeni, couldn’t be better, and I always know that I can phone her if anything comes up and that she will help resolve the problem.

My father’s care being shared between our family and our current fantastic carer, Florence (pictured below), has been such a weight lifted off of our shoulders. Dad has been adjusting really well to having Florence in the house with him. They get along tremendously and it’s great for our family to know he is safe and cared for.

Despite his memory difficulties, he sings old cockney songs like Knee Up Mother Brown to Florence that he sung to my brother and I when we were children. This is the ideal situation for our family, as he is able to carry on as he has always done and maintained his independence, but our family knows someone is there keeping him company and keeping him safe. We couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out.

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