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Couple whose marriage buckled after caring for loved ones with dementia take part in Memory Walk

Couple whose marriage buckled after caring for loved ones with dementia take part in Memory Walk

by Henry James (August 2021)

A LIVERPUDLIAN man whose marriage broke down under the pressure of caring for his parents on their dementia journey has shared his story and will be competing in this year’s Liverpool Memory Walk at Aintree Racecourse.

Tony Davidson Cowen and his husband Gary Davidson Taylor had been living in Manchester for 16 years, but moved back to Tony’s childhood home in the village of Melling in April 2016 to care for his dad Cedric who had vascular dementia.

Cedric and his wife Maureen adopted Tony when he was 15 after fostering him for several years and have no other children.

In 2011 Cedric was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Maureen had been caring for him at home, but after he suffered a bad fall five years ago she was informed he would need round the clock care.

Tony said: “It was a big move but we immediately said we’re doing it.

“Gary was brilliant with my dad and they developed a really close relationship.”

Tony’s shift pattern meant he worked four days on and four days off, so on his free days he would take over caring for Cedric.

Cedric sadly passed away in October 2018 aged 91, which was a devastating blow for the couple.

But it was followed by more tragic news when Tony’s mum Maureen was diagnosed as being in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease just three months later.

In 2019 Tony and Gary got married at Southport Registry Office with Maureen by their side.

Maureen didn’t require the round the clock care that Cedric had needed and Gary was able to return to work and set up a successful dog walking business.

But at the start of this year Maureen’s Alzheimer’s got worse over a very short period of time.

Tony commented: “Gary was out working and he drove past the house and found Mum standing in the middle of the road.

“He helped her back into the house and asked what she’d been doing but she just said ‘I haven’t been in the road’.”

The couple took Maureen back to her dementia clinic, but a cognitive assessment test didn’t reflect the changes she was experiencing.

The uncertainty over her condition took an emotional toll on Tony and Gary and it was clear that Maureen would need someone with her all the time to keep her safe.

In June Tony gave up his work to care for his mum full time.

Gary then told Tony he wanted to take a three-month trial separation from their marriage.

While Cedric had always said he wanted to live at home until he passed away Maureen who is now 89 has told Tony she wants to live in a care home when she can no longer wash and dress herself, but there is no way of knowing when that day will come.

On Sunday, September 5 at 10am Tony and Gary, who remain close friends, are doing the Liverpool Memory Walk for Alzheimer’s Society at Aintree Racecourse to raise money to help people living with dementia and their family and carers.

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