Let me introduce you to John and Alma.

John met Alma whilst working as a baker at Peart’s Bakery in Derby back in 1960. Alma was a 19-year-old bakery assistant working on the shop floor when she fell for John, aged 22. They went on to marry at a small church surrounded by family and friends on the 2nd December 1961.

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On the 17th September 1963, whilst living in Nottingham, Alma gave birth to their first child, a son named Robert. Four years later they moved to Birmingham where they had their second child, Beverley, on the 7th November 1967. Their family was complete.
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They then went on to move to Northwich, where John became Bakery Manager at the famous Roberts Bakery, before settling down in Manchester, 1972 where they both bought a bakery together which they named John Graham Confectioners. They spent the rest of their careers juggling the business and the family up until retiring in 1984.

22In 1989 they became grandparents for the first time when their daughter gave birth to her own daughter, Jade. In the years that followed they became Grandparents a further 4 times, another 3 granddaughter’s named Sophie born in 1992, Katie and Heather, both born in ’94 and their first and only grandson, Jamie, born 1998. They spent Christmases and special occasions surrounded by the entire family. Meal times would be loud and arguing would become a regular thing when it came to board games but despite it all, they wouldn’t have changed a thing. They lived for their family.

sddsAs the years passed they would spend their weekends baking or going to the park when their grandchildren came to visit. They’d take small holiday coach breaks where possible and help out at their local church. And throughout it all they were still as devoted to each other as the day they married. Alma would clean the house and paint everything white, whilst John did the cooking and managed the bills.

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Then Christmas 2014 came and it all changed.

The Family started noticing that Alma would forget things and repeat herself occasionally. Despite it being odd they didn’t think too much of it and put it down to old age. Just after Christmas John was taken into hospital having bumped his head. Having suffered a blood clot, he was placed in the brain unit at Salford Royal for 8 weeks having undergone brain surgery. During this time he became confused and agitated. And by confused, this would include him believing he had been operated on in a chip shop or that his son was ignoring him whilst lying in the hospital bed next to him. None of this was true of course.

The family later found out that Alma had hit him over the head which is what caused the clot on the brain. For anyone who knows Alma knows that she is the most kind, friendly, least aggressive person on this planet. (I mean she nursed a pigeon back to life a few years back!) This just wasn’t her!

Their daughter ended up moving in with Alma for the whole 8 weeks John was in hospital as she wasn’t safe to be left alone. It was during this time she became gradually worse. She would say there was a man living upstairs in the spare room and a little boy who kept moving all her things. She forgot how to do the simplest things such as brushing her hair, washing the clothes and making cups of tea.

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Once John was released from hospital things became difficult. Alma deteriorated quickly and John’s mood and attitude became more aggressive. Alma would sit there and not speak unless she was spoken to. She would no longer clean the house or curl her hair. John just didn’t understand why she wouldn’t answer him and became upset and annoyed easily. He just didn’t understand how the woman he had spent his whole life confiding in wouldn’t speak anymore. He just didn’t recognise her.

As things got worse, john was taken in to hospital a further 3 times due to more problems with his brain as well as a fall at home whilst in the garden. Alma would often go missing from the house in an attempt to get away from the ‘angry man’ in her home. The family reached out for help and support but it was a long and lengthy process. They were later told that John was suffering the early stages of Dementia, Alzheimer’s and would soon deteriorate like Alma.

On the 18th of September 2015, Alma was taken into a care home for 3 weeks worth of Rest-bite whilst John is still in hospital waiting on his own care package so that he can soon be released. Up until now the family haven’t a clue on what is to happen. Everyday is a learning curve and a struggle. Nobody knows what’s to come or how they will deal with the future. To see anyone go through such an awful disease is upsetting but when it is someone you love dearly it’s even worse!

And how do I know so much about Alma and John? Well, they are my Nana and Poppops and throughout my whole life I’ve known them both to be an outgoing, happy couple. I will always remember them as how they were, baking biscuits, trips to the park and Monopoly! I just wish I had more time to be able to do these things again! Having them both diagnosed with Alzheimer’s together around the same time is tough. However, for them both to go through it at the same time means it’s not as noticeable to each of them. Harder for the family but less painful for them as a couple. We as a family don’t know what the next year will hold and to be honest I’m dreading it as I know it’ll only get worse. One thing that helps us deal with it all is knowing we are not the only family out there dealing with Alzheimer’s.

bnAs a tribute to both my Nana and Poppops me, my dad and sister, my Aunty Bev and my cousins will be taking part in the Memory Walk for Alzheimer’s Society on Saturday 26th September at Heaton Park, Manchester. This will be a nice way to spend time as a family whilst remembering all the good things about our lovely, kind-hearted nana and poppops. It will be an emotional day and hard at times but picturing their faces at the finishing line will get us all through. Unless you have personally gone through something like this you will struggle to understand the demands and hard work it takes in caring for a sufferer of Dementia. Believe me, I never ever dreamed anything like this would happen and if I could take it away from them then I would. I know for certain they would not want us to see them like this.

aThis month is World Alzheimer’s Month, so, I’m asking you, if this story has effected you in any way then please donate what you can, if you can. The money goes straight to the Alzheimer’s charity and will hopefully help develop a cure for future generations. You can find my page here at my Just Giving page!

This is for my Nana and Poppops. I Love you both always!

Thank you for reading!

Sincerely, Sophie X