A DEVOTED son from Melling whose parents were diagnosed with dementia eight years apart has spoken about the struggles of caring for them in support of Carers Week 2022 and the Alzheimer’s Society’s Forget Me Not Appeal.
Tony Davidson Cowen’s life was turned upside down when his dad Cedric was diagnosed with dementia in 2011, but little did he know that his mum would later go on to face the same cruel condition.
Tony, 61, and his partner Gary, 38, had been living in Manchester for 16 years but moved back to Tony’s childhood home in Melling in April 2016 to care for his dad who had vascular dementia.
Tony’s mum Maureen had been caring for him at home, but after he suffered a bad fall she was informed he would need round the clock support and Cedric was later moved to end of life care.
Tony said: “Gary and I packed up our busy lives in Manchester and moved back to my childhood home to start caring for dad.
“It was a big move but we knew it was the right thing to do. Gary sacrificed the most and gave up his job to care full time for Dad while I continued working as an engineer.
“Gary was brilliant with Dad - bathing and feeding him - and they formed a really close relationship.”
Tony’s shift pattern at work meant that he worked four days on and four days off, so in his free time he would take over caring for Cedric.
Cedric died in October 2018 aged 91, which was a devastating blow for Tony. But it was followed by more tragic news when his mum Maureen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s just three months later.
Unfortunately Maureen’s Alzheimer’s deteriorated over a short period of time and she began to decline rapidly.
In June 2021, Tony made the decision to give up his job and become Maureen’s full-time carer.
He said: “There are good days and there are bad days. As time goes on and mum’s memory gets worse, I have to keep reminding myself of what she is going through and how she must feel.”
Living with dementia and its effects can often be isolating and many people report that they feel forgotten about, but it’s not just those diagnosed with dementia that can feel invisible, but their carers too.
Thankfully, there are a range of people and organisations people can turn to for face-to-face or online support.
Maureen has told Tony that once her Alzheimer’s progresses and she can no longer wash or dress herself, she wants to live in a care home.
Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Advisers connect people to the support they need, whether it’s advice on legal documents, help understanding dementia, or someone to talk to when things get tough. Visit alzheimers.org.uk or call 0333 150 3456.