Song and dance keeps harmony at home for caring husband
Music therapy and regular respite care has helped keep a loving couple together at home while they continue their life with dementia.
Every Thursday, Jeanette Smallwood, who is living with Alzheimer’s, and her Silver Chain Care Aide Priya start off as strangers only to become best friends, singing and dancing to songs from the sixties.
Meanwhile, Jeanette’s husband and fulltime carer, Terry Smallwood, finds much needed time for himself to get out of the house, visit the shops, pay his bills and see his daughters.
Terry admits that at first, he was too proud to ask for help, but says Silver Chain has taken a load off his shoulders when it comes to looking after his 77-year-old wife of 58 years.
“I don’t have hobbies because I can’t leave Jeanette alone, so I do feel like a prisoner at times,” Mr Smallwood said.
“Jeanette was diagnosed five years ago, and Alzihemer’s is dreadful, she knows who Terry is, but she doesn’t recognise that I’m Terry and her husband.
“Every day is much the same, I help her get up, get dressed, I cook for her and help her around the house. I don’t get much time to do the normal things other people get to do, like socialise.”
Silver Chain Executive General Manager, Social Care, Melanie Kiely, knows that living with dementia can be a lonely experience, not only for the individual with the condition, but their loved ones and carers as well.
“Terry loves his wife very much, but caring for someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week can take its toll,” Ms Kiely said.
“That is where our respite care services come in, giving carers a much needed and well deserved break.”
Terry said Jeanette was glamorous in everything she did and always wanted to be on stage.
“She loved her singing and dancing. Priya will help my wife with her hair and makeup and then they sing and dance for hours,” Mr Smallwood said.
“When Priya comes over, I have peace of mind that Jeanette is in safe hands.
“It’s difficult being a husband and a carer, but with the support of my daughters and Silver Chain I’m able to keep my wife by my side at home. I don’t know what I’d do if she went to a nursing home, we’ve always done everything together.”
At Silver Chain, all of our services are dementia-friendly. We always make an effort to get to know our clients and understand their passions and experiences, and tailor our home care services to help them to continue to live at home.