Living with Dementia - Julie & John's Story
“You cannot put a price on what these people provide for us.”
Julie met her husband John on a blind date 35 years ago. Six years later they had married and were celebrating the birth of their daughter, Jemma.

“They have always been such a close dad and daughter - she has been the apple of his eye ever since she was born. I think that’s been one of the most challenging things about all of this - when Jemma comes home to visit and John isn’t able to recognise her – it’s tough on all of us, but I know how tough it is for her.”

John was diagnosed with Dementia in 2019 at the age of 63. Now 66, he has been visiting Wakefield Hospice for the past year, every Wednesday, receiving support from the Dementia Day Care team.

“There’s no other way to put it - it has been a life-saver for me and John.

“There had been signs for a long time that something wasn’t right. It started with little things like leaving doors unlocked or losing keys which we would just laugh off as being old age - after all Dementia didn’t run in the family - but when John’s dad died seven years ago he began to get worse and worse.”

Initially, doctors had diagnosed John with depression, and it wasn’t until four years later that John was finally diagnosed with Dementia and Alzheimers.

“When someone you love is diagnosed with Dementia, there isn’t a manual to follow. I’d worked with District Nurses before and tried to convince myself that I could cope on my own – keep one step ahead of the game – but I soon found out I was wrong.

“In October 2019 I hit a wall. I couldn’t keep pushing forward pretending everything was OK, John was deteriorating, I was deteriorating, I finally reached out for help and looking back now, I am so glad I did.”

Wakefield Hospice Admiral Nurse Debby Veigas (alongside Wakefield’s Community Admiral Nurse) visited Julie and John in their home, it was at this visit when Debby first introduced the couple to the possibility of attending Dementia Day Care at the hospice.

“We put our name down on the list… I can honestly say it is the best decision we have made.

“The past three years have been some of the most challenging times we have faced. I know I can’t do everything right – no one can – but when I bring John to the hospice I can sense his enjoyment, I can see he is happy, he is content, he is safe, and I smile and think to myself ‘Julie - you’re doing something right’.

“It’s just the personalised support they offer, I can see how much they care for John, and likewise how much John cares for them; they’ve been incredible for him and they’ve been incredible for me too.”

Dementia Day Care services currently run on Monday’s and Wednesday’s at Wakefield Hospice and have proven immensely popular since they were introduced in September 2021.

“Wakefield Hospice has given me my life back.

“I can go out, meet friends, recharge my batteries, knowing I am doing the right thing – looking after myself and looking after John at the same time.

“I’m only 58 years old and I am aware that there will be lots of people older than me out there, facing similar situations but not receiving any support. I had to breakdown at work before I could realise the only way to bounce back up was to reach out for help – you don’t need to do that, help is available, you just need to take that first step… I know I am so glad that I did.

“I’m fortunate to have a great set of friends and family around me too, but I don’t know what I would do without the amazing team at Wakefield Hospice – the care and support they provide for John and I is truly invaluable.”

To find out more about the Dementia Day Care services provided at Wakefield Hospice please click below

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