Alzheimer's: One man's story

PUBLISHED: 11:50 09 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:44 15 June 2010

FOLLOWING revelations of cutbacks in NHS care affecting Alzheimer's patients, a Seaton man whose wife suffers with the disease highlighted the need for more funding.

FOLLOWING revelations of cutbacks in NHS care affecting Alzheimer's patients, a Seaton man whose wife suffers with the disease highlighted the need for more funding.James Bayman, 86, of Seaton cared for his wife Doreen, 85, when she was diagnosed with the disease 13 years ago. As Doreen's condition worsened and he struggled to cope, James put her into care over four years ago.Up until May he had to pay £2,055 each month for her care as an assessment ruled they did not meet the criteria for funding. But, on appeal, he was given help from the NHS. James said his wife receives good care at Thornfield care home but that it was a long fight to get government funding.He said: "I wasn't paying full whack - it's outrageous. It takes your capital away but I know several people it's happened to. But you can fight it." A survey carried out for the Alzheimer's Society shows that around 700,000 people have dementia in Britain, costing the nation £17 billion a year. This number is expected to reach a million by 2025 as the population ages.Author Terry Pratchett, who was diagnosed with dementia last year, recently warned Prime Minister Gordon Brown that Britain faces a 'tsunami of Alzheimer's' unless more funding for a cure is found.James, of Fosse Court Way, said there were four people out of 20 with Alzheimer's in the flats where he lived alone.He said: "Unfortunately Alzheimer's can affect anybody - it's quite frightening."Despite soaring numbers, early diagnosis is still a problem. James said there had been signs that Doreen had Alzheimer's even 30 years ago - but at the time they did not know what it was.James, who has been married to Doreen for 63 years, said: "We didn't know what it was at first but we knew something was wrong. When I found out Doreen had Alzheimer's I felt shattered. I spent hundreds of pounds on pills but it didn't do any good. She was too far gone."I had to wash her, feed her. She had been a good girl all her life and you wouldn't let her down. She would have done the same for me. But now she's just like a baby and doesn't really recognise me at all. She can't hold a conversation, but sometimes you get a smile out of her. "It's heart-breaking. I see her four times a week but each time it brings tears to my eyes because I remember her as she was and I'm so sorry she can't enjoy her last years as she should have done." He said it started with little things, such as tearing flowers heads off instead of pruning, but developed to greater memory loss and wandering - to the point where she could have been a danger to herself.He said: "In the end, if I didn't put her into care they thought I would pack up as well. I have to keep well for her as I want to be there for her."Doreen had previously suffered from cancer. James believes Alzheimer's is as traumatic, if not more. Frustrating and upsetting for the carer, it can be undignifying for the sufferer.He said: "They can get rid of cancer now, and at least there's a cut off point with it. If they invested the same money in Alzheimer's research perhaps they could to the same."Doreen is a totally different person now. She used to be so full of life and would help anybody. Even if it's too late to help her, I think we are all hopeful that there will be a cure in the future for Alzheimer's."A spokesperson for Devon Primary Care Trust said: "In relation to the Trust's funding of services for people with Alzheimer's or dementia, there have been no recent changes to our policy. "We are looking forward to the launch of the National Alzheimer and Dementia Strategy at the end of this year, which will give us a clearer direction for the delivery of services.

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