Woman shares her online diary about caring for her husband with dementia

Patrick and Geraldine over the years
Patrick and Geraldine over the years

AN AUTHOR who is caring for her husband with a progressive type of dementia has shared her diary posts about their life.

Geraldine Durrant, from East Grinstead, is a former journalist and children’s author.

She first met her husband Patrick when they were children and the pair celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day this year.

Since 2021, Geraldine, 72, has become a full time carer to Patrick after he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia.

The Argus: Patrick and Geraldine as children. Credit: Geraldine Durrant
The Argus: Patrick and Geraldine as children. Credit: Geraldine Durrant

Patrick and Geraldine as children. Credit: Geraldine Durrant

Following his shock diagnosis, Geradline used her writing skills to produce an online diary to chart the struggles and emotions she was feeling since becoming a full-time carer.

The blog is aptly named Midsummer Madness as 78-year-old Patrick was diagnosed in June.

She said: “Nothing however dreadful is wasted on a writer. I began the diary when he was first diagnosed as it helps get things off my chest.

“After reading stories from carers online, I realised others might recognise their struggles in our own and feel less alone if I shared it.

“So I did, changing our names to James and Georgina to preserve my husband's privacy at first, which has stuck.

“It is not all doom and gloom but also discusses light-hearted things that happen in our lives, as I try to inject humour but portray the reality.”

The Argus: Patrick and Geraldine on their wedding day. Credit: Geraldine Durrant
The Argus: Patrick and Geraldine on their wedding day. Credit: Geraldine Durrant

Patrick and Geraldine on their wedding day. Credit: Geraldine Durrant

Geraldine has been writing blog posts regularly since September last year, discussing the highs and the lows of her and Patrick’s experiences.

Her most recent post tells of his confusion following the death of the Queen, she writes: “James, a former military man, has been glued to the television for days.

“But he has been utterly bewildered by the endless coverage alternating between news of the monarch’s recent demise and video footage of her very much alive, well and waving…”

Geraldine says that writing helps her to come to terms with the couple’s circumstances.

The Argus: Patrick and Geraldine. Credit: Geraldine Durrant
The Argus: Patrick and Geraldine. Credit: Geraldine Durrant

Patrick and Geraldine. Credit: Geraldine Durrant

She said: “Putting pen to paper helps me deal with grief. His diagnosis caused a huge ripple in our pond, and we felt on our own from the beginning of this journey.

“I was surprised that following Patrick’s diagnosis, we were not called in by the GP.

“It took a long time to navigate the system so if the blog can help direct people in the right direction during their difficult times, I will take that small win.

“Patrick was recently in hospital for five weeks with an infection. They promised to send him to a local care home for rehab while we got a care package in place.

“But they would not send him home to me without a care package, and I could not fix a care package as there were no available carers.

"I got the impression my husband would have been in hospital indefinitely, so used a significant amount from our savings to pay privately and get him into a local Dementia Care Unit. What is obvious, is that there is very little official support.

“It would have been cheaper to send my husband to the Caribbean for a fortnight holiday than have respite at home.

“It would be one thing looking after someone with dementia if you were fit and in your 20s, but I am an old lady with a couple of replacement joints."

The Argus: Patrick Durrant. Credit: Geraldine Durrant
The Argus: Patrick Durrant. Credit: Geraldine Durrant

Patrick Durrant. Credit: Geraldine Durrant

Geraldine decided to share her diary posts this month to mark World Alzheimer’s Month and to help others in similar situations.

Left to Cope Alone: The unmet support needs after a dementia diagnosis, was a report released in July by Alzheimer’s Society.

It revealed more than three in five (61 per cent) of people affected by dementia in the South-East did not feel they had received enough support in the last 12 months.

A second survey of 1,000 people affected by dementia also published earlier this year, showed more than half (54%) of family carers reached crisis point in the last year alone, with families having no idea of the support available.

This left people with dementia at risk of going to hospital with avoidable conditions like falls or urinary infections, creating unnecessary pressure on the NHS.

The Argus: Patrick Durrant. Credit: Geraldine Durrant
The Argus: Patrick Durrant. Credit: Geraldine Durrant

Patrick Durrant. Credit: Geraldine Durrant

Alzheimer’s Society is now calling for every primary care network to use the government’s funding for support roles in primary care to provide at least one dementia support worker in their area.

For support and advice on dementia, call Alzheimer’s Society on 0333 150 3456 or visit alzheimers.org.uk.

You can read Geraldine’s diary, Midsummer Madness here: https://substack.com/profile/47242178-georgina-grant