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At the age of 67, Graham was diagnosed with lewy body dementia. Despite the devastating news, his wife Marian, was determined to stay positive and cherish every moment together.

Lewy body dementia is the second most common form of the disease after Alzheimer’s. It was a gradual change in Graham’s behaviour that led to the first doctor’s appointment over two years ago.

“It started off with not being able to remember routes in the car and then it progressed to hallucinations. He’d see things that weren’t there and gradually lost the ability to reason. I wanted to make things better for him but didn’t know how.”

As Graham’s condition developed, he started wondering out of the house into busy roads. The couple felt like they had no choice but to move to a quieter area and spend the majority of their life savings on house adaptations, essential for Graham’s physical and mental decline. Marian was determined to make the best of it.

“Graham’s ability to cope was getting more difficult and therefore more difficult for me. But when we moved into our new home, we said that whatever’s thrown at us, we’d face together. And that’s what we did.”

Marian and Graham continued to adjust to their new life, where routine played a crucial role. It helped Graham feel safe. Consequently, the start of the pandemic was detrimental to this sense of security Marian had worked so hard to create.

“A structured daily schedule was very important to us. So when we went into lockdown, we felt very limited with what we could do. We tried to make the best of it but life suddenly got much harder.”

Their stress was amplified by the chest infection Graham developed just a few months later. A short and stressful period in respite care led to a trip to hospital before being transferred to a nursing home. He passed away just a week later, leaving his family in shock.

“I didn’t expect him to die so suddenly. He didn’t deserve to die like he did. It was the worst year of my life. It’s my birthday today and I found an old card from him and have put it on the shelf. He would want me to be strong so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

As she did her best to deal with her grief in isolation, she was also worried about her finances. With the majority of their life savings spent on house adaptations, Marian couldn’t afford to pay for her husband’s funeral. That’s when she decided to give us a call to see if we could help.

“I receive newsletters from the Charity and I liked reading the powerful stories from people they’ve supported. A particular story about a retired civil servant had a profound impact on me so I decided to reach out to them. I explained my situation and they paid towards Graham’s funeral. I can’t express how much I appreciated it. To have had a lifeline thrown at me like that meant so much.”

Removing the fear of plummeting into debt allowed Marian to focus on her wellbeing, taking each day as it comes. Although she has survived a traumatic year on a personal level, Marian has a message of hope for others who are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Both myself and my husband had long careers within the Civil Service and it really felt like a family. For that family to function, we need to be there for each other. That sense of belonging came rushing back when I gave the Charity a call. Their support has been utterly wonderful. It took my breath away.”

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