Grant and his wife, Rosie, had been married for 17 years when their lives changed forever.
Both very active people, the couple rose at 6.30am every day to go walking, played golf, travelled extensively, and generally enjoyed an action-packed life.
However, in 2015, Rosie experienced a sudden stroke, followed by memory loss and other changes. Rosie and Grant consulted their doctor, and were shocked to receive the news that Rosie had vascular dementia and a very much shortened life expectancy.
Over the past four years, Rosie’s condition has deteriorated, with Grant now Rosie’s full time carer, supporting her daily needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Grant now has no time for his previous pastimes of playing golf, running, or even walking the dog. Rosie requires Grant’s assistance with basic tasks such as eating, showering, and personal care.
Grant’s love of gardening has also been placed on the back burner.
Another important thing that changed for Rosie and Grant was that they lost contact with some friends and family. Long-held relationships began to suffer and they felt socially isolated.
Grant reflects that, ‘If my wife had passed away, I would grieve, and the pain would likely reduce over time; but living with somebody with dementia is grieving every day for what you have lost.’
However, when asked what words he has for other family carers, Grant offers these words of advice: ‘Retain your sense of humour, and utilise respite care whenever you can.’
Julian Sporne, Assistant Manager Resthaven Community Respite Services, says, ‘Respite care is short term care options that allow family carers such as Grant to take a break from their caring role, thereby ensuring that they stay healthy themselves.’
‘Resthaven Community Respite Services provides short term, overnight, or group outing respite services to older people like Rosie, at a range of locations throughout metropolitan Adelaide.’
‘Family carers can take the break they need, having peace of mind knowing that their loved one is being cared for in a comfortable, home-like environment, with fully trained staff on duty 24/7.’
‘Residential respite (short term stays) is also available at all Resthaven residential aged care homes.’
Grant describes the two days that Rosie visits Resthaven Community Respite Services day respite at Hersey Cottages as ‘wonderful’, and treasures the extended respite stays that Rosie regularly undertakes at a residential aged care home.
Grant says, ‘When Rosie first had a residential respite stay, it took weeks before I was able to enjoy mundane things, like washing the car for the first time in 12 months, or tidying the garage.’
‘In saying that, I missed Rosie every day, and was pleased to be reunited with her at the end of the respite stay.’
Julian says, ‘It is evident to anybody who meets Grant that he is devoted to his wife, and is committed to keeping her safe and happy. Grant says that at 7pm every night when he helps Rosie to bed, they hold hands, and Rosie always says “I love you”.’
‘In October 2019, Grant attended one of the Carer’s Week Workshops, conducted by Resthaven Community Respite Services, and kindly agreed to share his story.’
‘If you are a family carer like Grant and would like to find out how Resthaven can support you, phone Resthaven Community Respite Services on 8198 2060.’
‘For residential respite enquiries, phone 8373 9113.’
Note: Sadly, Rosie passed away in January 2020. Our thoughts are with Grant and his family.