'Christmas has changed forever'- Coventry wife speaks of impact husbands dementia has on holidays - The Coventry Observer

'Christmas has changed forever'- Coventry wife speaks of impact husbands dementia has on holidays

Coventry Editorial 6th Dec, 2023   0

A COVENTRY woman whose husband is living with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia has spoken of how his condition has ‘changed Christmas forever’.

Carmel O’Sullivan’s heartbreaking account comes after a new report from the Alzheimer’s Society revealed over a third of people with dementia in the West Midlands are unable to visit loved ones over the festive season.

Carmel, who cares for her husband John, said her Christmas season had changed dramatically in recent years, with her left to hang up Christmas decorations and buy presents on her own.

She added: “I am now essentially more ‘John’s Carer’ than ‘John’s Wife’, although he will always be the lovely man I married in 1969.

“Before John had dementia, he would drive me to a variety of shops in the run-up to Christmas, wait patiently for me, and then carry the shopping bags.

“He would drop off cards and presents, pick up the grandchildren, run last-minute errands, help to prepare the vegetables for dinner and carve the meat.

“He would get up with me in the morning and open presents with the children and help entertain friends and family.

“Now I have to organise all the shopping and carry my own bags as John has no understanding of the practical Christmas preparations.

“This year I will have to get the decorations from the attic, put them up and, if I want the outside lights up, go out and do them myself.”

She and John will be spending Christmas dinner with their daughter this year, but his dementia has made him very withdrawn, meaning they will have to go home straight after lunch.

The Alzheimer’s Society found, since 2022, one in four people with dementia are no longer able to take part in any Christmas activities and a quarter no longer recognise family or friends.

Of the dementia carers surveyed in the West Midlands, 28 per cent said they felt more emotionally drained and 22 per cent felt more physically exhausted.

The charity has launched the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ appeal to help end the ‘devastation’ caused by dementia.

Visit alzheimers.org.uk/Christmas to donate to the appeal.

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