Karena Sellman’s Story of Life as a Carer
… He is a petite and a quiet man. When he walks he is so delicate on foot you could hear a pin drop. Unassuming and slight in every way his demeanour belies the enormous weight which he bears on his fragile shoulders.
For my husband Manny Selman has dementia. He knows something isn’t right. He can revel in the memory of his wedding day with superb clarity but stumbles over the days of the week.
Riddled with confusion he sits uncomfortably between understanding enough about his condition to feel its pain and being frustrated and unable to comprehend its enormity.
I can recall the day he was diagnosed with dementia with lewy bodies in intricate detail.
It was 7th June 2010 and he was 76. There were signs that things weren’t right. He wasn’t driving well and albeit that he had always suffered with anxiety it was getting worse. Plus he started forgetting things.
A progressive dementia that leads to a decline in thinking, reasoning and independent function it is characterised by confusion, balance problems, visual hallucinations, sleep disorder and acting out dreams, sometimes violently.
But having always benefitted from Manny’s ability to juggle every household task from the finances to the paperwork and even the bin collection each week as well as run a series of successful menswear shops, it was a stark wake up call to a new reality.
Life was perfect and then suddenly I was thrust almost without warning into a new role that I knew nothing about.
Nevertheless, aged 76 and despite suffering with dyslexia, I continued, ignoring warnings from concerned friends that it would be extremely difficult for me. It was only when Manny, a former tennis player, fell at our home that I knew things needed to change.
I managed to keep us in our family home for 21 months but the day he went tumbling down the stairs I had to concede defeat. He needed 22 stitches and still bears a scar on his head. I said then that he was never going to sleep alone again and I have made sure of it.
However just two weeks after leaving our familiarity and moving into a more sensible two-bedroom flat in Stanmore, we were dealt a further bitter blow when our 46-year-old son Raymond died suddenly of a heart attack.
It was a total tragedy. But in some ways the dementia made it easier for Manny to cope. It took the raw edge off his grief. …