I spent a lovely half an hour chatting with Diana last week.  Diana has been married to Malcolm for 30 years, with 4 children between them from previous marriages.

Malcolm started struggling with his short-term memory and spatial awareness.  ‘At first we didn’t tell anybody, I was scared of people finding out.  If we went out for a meal, I’d pick both meals and then swap if Malcolm didn’t like what I’d picked for him’.

‘He was always a bluffer and a joker; he still bluffs now, I just need to give him time as he is a bit slower!’

‘It was nice to be on a course with other spousal carers.’  Diana attended Empowered Conversations and then moved on to Empowered Carers.  Empowered Carers provides one to one dementia focused therapeutic support for family caregivers.  ‘Empowered Carers helped me to look at the other side of things.  I felt overwhelmed by caring, starting work the minute you wake up.  Empowered Carers gave me a space to share, to think, I came away from sessions feeling more positive, that I was doing alright’.

‘Empowered Carers helped me to realise that I needed to think about myself, take time for me even if it was just 10 minutes, be a little selfish!  I went away for a weekend during Carers Week last year with family supporting Malcolm.   When I came back my granddaughter said ‘Grandma it’s taken 7 of us to care for grandad and we’re all exhausted.  How do you do it?’

I realised that I didn’t want to spend the last few years of my life providing personal care for my husband and worrying all the time.  Malcolm moved into a care home, when I visit, we have quality time together, we smile, we dance, we sing and we go to the pub for a pint.  My mantra is ‘I didn’t cause the dementia and I’m not guilty’.

I asked Diana how she would describe Empowered Carers, ‘it’s a lifeline, it’s helped with problem solving, Amanda has been a knowledgeable best friend’.

And what would you share with other caregivers supporting family members living with dementia; ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup!’