A Cookstown man whose mother is suffering from dementia, has spoken about how a local support group is helping him cope and even have a laugh.
Eugene Wilson’s 89-year old mother was diagnosed with missed pattern dementia over three years ago, and he cares for her at home while holding down a job.
After going through what he admits was a ‘bad patch’ in coming to terms with his mother’s illness, Eugene found an important outlet with the Alzheimer’s Society.
“Any problem I have, I go and ask them. I always tell other people to go to the group,” said Eugene.
Sharing problems is not only about supporting the person in that situation. It also helps others prepare for possible future issues – from dealing with incontinence to feelings of guilt when someone moves into a care home.
Eugene added: “Meeting people at the group is very good, we give each other tips. Sometimes we have a good laugh too.”
Dementia Support Worker in the Mid Ulster area, Mona McGlade, says the group’s members are often dealing with very different circumstances, yet have common ground as carers.
“They can say the things they feel they can’t say to others, and express their frustrations and how they’re dealing with caring for the people with dementia,” said Mona.
She says that everyone is different, and it can be daunting to come to a group for the first time, but she encourages carers to give it a go.
“It took three months before one gentleman came along, but he’s been to every one since. You don’t know until you try it.”
There are two support groups in the Mid Ulster area. One meets the third Wednesday of each month in The Hub of Cookstown, 12pm – 1.30pm and the other take place on the fourth Tuesday of each month in The Lurach Centre, Maghera, 7pm – 8.30pm.
Another carer Geraldine Dynes expressed the sense of solidarity which the group meetings bring to those affected.
“The group is a really worthwhile way to spend one and a half hours,” she said.
“I do find the group very beneficial, even if it’s just getting rid of things I’ve been bottling up.
“Sometimes you’re listening to someone and suddenly think ‘That’s the situation I’m in’,” Geraldine added.
The Alzheimer’s Society have a dedicated team of trained Dementia Support Workers who can provide a support meeting to discuss any concerns, worries or issues regarding dementia.
In Northern Ireland an estimated 20,000 people are living with dementia. it’s estimated that 47,000 people will have developed a dementia in Northern Ireland by 2050.