Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Lost World

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Lost World

Article excerpt

Byline: By Helen Sturdy

Caring for someone with dementia can be very distressing, hard work and can put the carer under severe strain - John Canham, left, of the Teesside branch of the Alzheimer's Society

IT all started with a bit of forgetfulness.

But Jack's family thought that was simply what came with old age.

It wasn't until Jack began to change that his daughter, Jean, really started to notice a difference.

And it was then the fear of dementia crept into her mind.

She'd noticed a change when her dad, a former joiner, was just 68.

"Every Thursday he used to come to visit me in Saltburn with my mum," says Jean.

"They always used to go for fish and chips and one day he went and got five fish and one bag of chips."

Then one day Jack was on his daily walk from his Norton home when Jean passed him in the car.

"I stopped the car and told him I would give him a lift and he said 'I've got a daughter that lives in Saltburn'" she says.

"Then we were sitting in the garden and he said 'This is a nice house, I wonder who lives here?' He had been visiting for 20 years."

Jean says the crunch came when her parents went on holiday in 1986 and she received a terrifying phone call telling her one of her parents had been taken ill.

Although it turned out to be Jean's mum, her dad had been left alone in the hotel and became confused about his surroundings.

"That was when he had to go and see a doctor," she says.

"He went into hospital and they said we had to put him in a care home.

"That was really hard for my mum. I felt he really did not know us any more then."

Jack was put into a home in Darlington and spent hours wandering around the corridors.

His doting family would constantly visit but found their loved one becoming more and more detached.

"I think the hardest part was one day when I was visiting him with my husband," says Jean.

"My dad came in and looked at me and just gave me a blank look, and there was just nothing there.

"It was like he didn't know me and I just used to wonder what he would be like the next time I saw him. …

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