A diagnosis of young-onset dementia can turn lives upside down. But for Neil and his mum, Yvonne, their special bond remains strong. Neil shares the new challenges facing them as Yvonne's condition progresses.
Back in 2013, my Mum Yvonne was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease aged just 60, I was 29.
This was a huge blow to us, which turned our lives upside down. Life would never be the same again.
We had just lost my Nan in the February of that year. It was her death that hit my Mum extremely hard and this was the trigger for the strike of Alzheimer’s.
A special bond
Mum and I have a special bond and I love her with all my heart; I am her son and her principle carer. I do not have any siblings so it’s just Mum and I living at our home.
I was all set to move out when the news that Mum was ill came and I chose to stay.
Mum and I like to go for walks, take a drive to the coast for some sea air, or pop to local garden centres for coffee and cake. I also paint Mum's nails so she still gets some pampering! Making sure Mum has a smile on her face and a laugh daily is really important to me.
I am extremely proud of my Mum and how well she deals with the huge challenges she faces daily with this unforgiving mental illness.
From the very start of our journey, one of my main goals was to keep Mum at her home for as long as I possibly could. I have increased her care packages as each hurdle has presented itself.
The caregivers who work for the care company we use have all become Mum’s best friends, which is something beautiful to come out of this.
Mum now attends a day centre at a local nursing home five days a week, which she loves. It’s great for her mental and physical stimulation and the staff are fantastic and extremely caring!
As we progress through this illness, Mum’s needs are getting ever more complex. It’s the hardest thing in the world to witness as I can’t make it go away.
I want to protect Mum till the very end, but the Alzheimer’s is so cruel and is taking her away from me. It really is the long goodbye...
The effect on loved ones
Not only does Alzheimer’s affect the patient, it has a huge effect on family members who care for their loved ones and this has had a massive impact on me.
I have feelings of guilt and anger that my Mum’s quality of life has been taken from her. The upsetting scenes I have had to witness as Mum gets more poorly will leave a mark in my mind for the rest of my life.
Being an only child as well has been tough, as I don’t have the support from other family members.
As well as working full time I have really dedicated the last seven years of my life to making sure Mum’s every need was met, given the harsh hand she has been dealt with this illness.
Supporting Alzheimer's Society
In October 2017, Mum and I walked 5k at the Berkshire Memory Walk to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society. My family, friends and colleagues dug deep and we raised £2,700!
Now, Mum requires 24-hour care and I am forced to look into care homes.
It’s a heart-breaking decision, but I have to make the right choices for her to ensure that she is getting the care she needs and deserves.
For any other families caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s, all I can say is: be strong! One of the hardest things you will ever have to do is grieve the loss of a family member or friend that is still alive.
Thank you for reading my story. Let’s hope a cure can be found soon!
‘Remember not everyone’s disability is visible, be patient.’