Alan and his mum Jackie arm in arm on the sofa

Watching football is a refuge for me as a carer for my mum with dementia

Lifelong Liverpool fan, Alan, sees Anfield as a place he can find community and channel difficult emotions around caring for his mum, Jackie, who has dementia.

Mum had already taken early retirement from a job she loved because of health issues, but by the end of 2019 I noticed things like she was forgetting her car keys. She kept using the word ‘dipsy’ to describe her behaviour.

Picking up early signs of dementia 

Other people might have dismissed this, but for me it was a red flag.

She was forgetting where she’d parked her car and one day got it wedged on the drive, so I asked her to give up driving.

She then started to lose her balance and fall when she was at her flat alone. I phoned the GP and they told me to take her to A&E.

At the hospital it was initially thought she’d had a stroke, but that was ruled out by a blood test. Mum was sent home on the basis she could string sentences together, but we knew something was wrong. It was the start of Covid, so services were stretched.

She later had a scan which detected fluid around her brain. We were told this was causing the balance problems, so they didn’t do further investigations.

Mum had to wait months for an operation to put in a shunt for the fluid to be drained, but her memory loss got worse after the procedure. 

Alan and his siblings with their mum when they were children

Jackie with her children Alan, Neil, Emma and Keith

Finally getting mum's diagnosis

We went back to the GP and mum was referred to the mental health team. There were attempts to do memory tests over the phone and by video call, but they just made her confused and anxious, so someone came to mum’s flat to do them.

In October 2020 she was diagnosed with mixed dementia. It didn’t come as a shock to me, but mum was devastated. She had been talking herself out of it saying she was alright and was coping when she wasn’t.

Our dementia advisers are here for you.

Me and my partner Jackie look after mum, going back and forth to her flat to care for her. Nothing can prepare you for what it’s like. It never stops. We’re only now starting to get support from social services, a few hours a week to give us some respite.

Getting help from Alzheimer's Society

It was hard to get advice at first, so I turned to the Alzheimer’s Society who were fantastic and have been so supportive. 

Our Dementia Adviser Gill took me under her wing, explaining things from power of attorney to how things might change in my world as well as mum’s.

When I am worried about whether I am really helping my mum, Gill helps me realise I am doing a good job and there is no right or wrong way to cope.

Finding a safe-haven in supporting Liverpool

One thing that has helped me over the last couple of years is supporting Liverpool. Since I was a kid, going to football games was the only place you could go and let your emotions out, scream and shout, without people looking at you.

When you go through something like this you bottle things up. Being at Liverpool games has helped me release an awful lot of that. When I’ve been through bad times with my mum, I’ve felt so much better after going to the game.

We don’t even have to win, it’s just being in the crowd and singing with everyone that is so special.

Alan and his son at Anfield

Alan and his son Daniel in the Kop at Anfield

I have some fantastic memories of my mum and Liverpool. When I was a teenager, she used to do health promotion work at the club.

She knew how important the club was in my life. She organised for Brian Hall to show me around the stadium and got me a signed ball. I got a signed photo of John Barnes too. 

Anfield is a second home to me. It is my safe haven. At night games when the floodlights are on, it’s a special place.

For people going through the same experiences with a loved one with dementia, I hope they have a safe haven too. I think its important people have that break away, whether it be sport or another hobby or passion.

Sport should be unforgettable

Through our work with sport, Alzheimer's Society is making a difference for all people who, like Alan and Jackie, are affected by dementia.

Learn more


Some time I am so sad and helpless. It’s not my fault. He is very agree. Makes me cry. He is on medication. When he is agree looks some one different person is sitting in front of me.
Hi, thank you for your reply to my story. I am sorry to hear you are finding it difficult and you are getting upset. I myself can understand how you are feeling and hope you are getting the help and support you both need through this difficult time. I have found talking to the Alzheimer’s support team a real help. 🙏❤️
Great story I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2020 it’s still early stages and I’m doing everything I can to carry on as normal. Im 62 still work and drive ( on a medical license) I still play walking football and support my local team Oxford United and I too find this a great escape to all my problems and it also gives my wife a break from me 😀.
Hi Brian, first of all, thank you for your reply and sharing your situation. It sounds like you are coping really well with your diagnosis and the thought that you are keeping active and have somewhere to escape your problems is great! 👍🙏