Dementia care: Making the right decision - Hillary and Paul's story

08 April 2022

by David Moore, Dementia Lead, MHA


Choosing to place a relative living with dementia into care can be one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to make.

I caught up with Hillary, the wife of MHA Beechville resident Paul. Hilary was faced with a dilemma when it became obvious that she could no longer care for her beloved husband Paul at home. Despite making plans to convert rooms in their home, Hillary had to make the best decision for Paul and for herself so that they could enjoy the time they had together.

Paul was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s back in 2016, and he and Hillary went traveling everywhere. Hillary said, “We did everything we could, enjoyed life, just went out, had lots of time with friends and family and it was great.”

“And then one night he said, I have to go now. I said, where are you going? He said I’ve got to go home to my wife and kids. And I said, no sweetheart, I’m your wife. I think that was the first time we actually nearly fell out because he was just so adamant that I wasn’t his wife.”

Over the next eight weeks, Paul’s condition deteriorated. He would be up most of the night which meant that both he and Hillary only had about 2-3 hours’ sleep.

Exhausted and scared, Hillary didn’t know how best to help Paul.

“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to help him, because he would wake up in the morning, and I was just this woman who he worked for and he wanted to get away, he wanted to get home. And that would carry on all day, all evening. Paul would be getting more and more distressed. I’ve never seen anybody so frightened in my life. It was really tough to see someone you love in such a state.”

Hillary was plagued with feelings of guilt but knew that she had to what was right for Paul while also ensuring that she kept herself healthy so she could look after him in whichever way she needed to.

“There comes a time when you have to face facts and be brave. I had to do what was right for Paul, so we could have whatever is left of our life together; to have a good and meaningful life with as much fun as possible, for as long as we could. Because for Paul it was no longer fun and for me, it was just hell.”

At this point, Hillary started to look for a suitable residential dementia care home for Paul.  This led her to find MHA Beechville in Bolton. Within a week, Paul had been assessed and was living in his new home.

From day one, Hillary knew she’d made the right decision. She said; “From that first day, the staff have been amazing with both Paul and myself. When the day came, Paul was so distraught and I was just an absolute mess. Four staff came out to look after me and I’m thinking, Paul’s the one coming in and they are having to come and sort me out!”

Since moving into MHA Beechville, Hillary has noticed positive changes in Paul’s behaviour and quality of life.

She knows that every day is different, “Some days I come in and he’s just full of laughter, joking and then other days he’s quiet and a bit sleepy. But I have to say that he’s so much happier. He has been doing some gardening, laughing, and having fun with the staff.”

MHA is a leading provider of award-winning music therapy in our 69 care homes offering dementia care. Music therapists work closely with the care home teams to enhance the residents’ quality of life, helping them to reconnect with their feelings, emotions, and memories.

Hillary was thrilled to find out about music therapy and that Paul would be having one-to-one and group sessions. “One day, I received a message to say that they were doing some music therapy at the home. Paul loves music and he had chosen a song that we played at our wedding. Afterwards, he went off down the corridor, singing and whistling.  Previously, Paul would whistle from the moment he woke up until he went to bed. It was then that I realised, that the music therapy had reconnected him to whistling like he used to.”

After having music therapy sessions, Hillary noticed that Paul was calmer and he was in a happier place. “That old spirit and laughter are still there for him and I think we can enjoy that because we’ve got help.”

Having specially trained dementia carers ensures that Paul receives the care he needs 24- hours a day which gives Hillary peace of mind:

“He still gets up through the night but now he’s having tea and toast at three o’clock in the morning, and a good old chat with the staff. Obviously, I couldn’t do that every night and continue to function.”

“I can’t thank the team at MHA Beechville enough. I can’t say enough good things about them, because they’ve not just looked after Paul, they’ve tried to look after me.”

Hillary knows that she made the right decision for Paul. His quality of life is 100% better.

“We all need to feel like we have a purpose in life, that we are needed. If Paul can continue to feel like he has a life and a purpose, whether that’s just doing a bit of gardening or sweeping up the leaves, at the end of the day, it makes him feel good and that is so, so important in life. That’s the same for everybody, whether you are in a care home or not.”

“He’s laughing, he’s happy, I’m getting some sleep! I also know it was the right decision. Absolutely. We can move forward and enjoy our time together.”

To find out more about dementia care homes near you, visit our dementia care page >

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