Me and my Dad - Denise's story
Denise Palmer is an Independent Living Coordinator at Nottingham City Homes. She is also a carer for her 84 year old father, David, who is living with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s.
David was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s while his wife was still alive around five years ago. It was in its early stages, but she still cared for him as best she could during that time. David’s wife sadly passed away four years ago, after 60 years of marriage and his care passed over to his daughter, Denise and her siblings.
“It has been hard, since my Mum passed away, for my Dad and for all of us really. His dementia has advanced quite considerably in four years, but myself, my sister, brother and the whole family really, all do our bit to keep him well and living in his own home. We promised my Mum before she died that we would do that for him, and we are doing everything we can to make sure we keep that promise.”
Denise and her family have a rota set up for her Dad’s care, which ensures he has someone with him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He is never alone. “We do this together as a family, and don’t get me wrong it’s challenging. We’re no spring chickens ourselves and have our own health problems and life goes on for all of us of course, despite the need to look after my Dad. But we manage.
“We’ve had to reluctantly bring in outside help, just for one evening a week, to give a little bit of respite, particularly as my sister-in-law is unwell herself at the minute and so my brother needs to be there for her too.”
Denise and her other siblings all work too, and three of them have had to reduce the number of days they work to help manage David’s care. “There are a lot of sacrifices for all of us of course, but this is our Dad. He has always been a fantastic support to us all, always been there for us whenever we needed anything. It’s our turn to take over now and do our bit for him.”
There is so much support available for carers, and there are opportunities for daily respite care in and around Nottinghamshire’s communities. In Denise’s job as an Independent Living Coordinator, working in sheltered schemes across the city, she spends a huge amount of her time putting on activities and events for her residents. But it’s not for everyone.
“My Dad was never one for getting involved in activities or events. His home was his castle and he was happy to be in it, with his family. So, encouraging him to come with us and do some different sorts of clubs or activities, was a non-starter really. We do play games together and try to do the crossword or wordsearches with him, but he is struggling to get involved with those things these days.”
Denise has a prescription for life, and particularly for her fellow carers, who give so much of their time and life to caring for their loved ones. She concluded: “Despite everything, laughter is ultimately the best medicine. In the best of times and in the hardest of times, my family and I can always find time to laugh and smile about things. What else is there, if you can’t do that?”