Leatherhead woman tells of transition from wife to full-time carer for husband
THE Department of Health estimates that about 14,000 people in Surrey have dementia - 59 per cent of them have not been formally diagnosed. Reporter Alex Robertson speaks to a Mole Valley woman about living with dementia.
DEREK Budden, now 83, was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's – a common form of dementia – in 2007 after suffering strange bouts of memory loss.
"At first he would forget routes when driving home," his wife Mary said. "Then he started to neglect our finances and was struggling to understand people when they spoke to him.
"I noticed something was definitely wrong when he suddenly lost interest in gardening and DIY, because those were things that he used to love and all of a sudden he didn't."
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The couple live in Fir Tree Road, Leatherhead, and Mrs Budden has become full-time carer to her husband of 53 years.
She said: "I was actually relieved in a way to find out. It helped me understand the changes that he was going through and the reason why he was behaving in particular ways.
"But I can't deny it makes me angry to think that he has been denied a proper retirement.
"Now all he does at home is sit; it can make him feel really depressed.
"The change in him has been absolute, to the point where it's completely changed his character and he is someone else."
Mrs Budden now relies on help from the Conservatory Club in Leatherhead and the Dorking branch of the Alzheimer's Society, both of which Mr Budden visits once a week.
"I get really helpful advice about how to look after him and he enjoys it because they know how to engage him properly, but the other thing is the respite it offers me," Mrs Budden added.
"We also have a carer from the Crossroads charity come round once a week and look after him. My other saving grace has been our dog Rocky. He helps occupy Derek and is a great companion to us both. Anyone else who is having their life affected by dementia should certainly consider the benefits of a pet."
For more information about dementia, go to www.nhs.uk/pathways/dementia