True love and devotion for couples living with dementia

IN SICKNESS AND HEALTH: Carer James McCutcheon, 84, of his wife Beverley, 80, who has Alzheimer’s.
IN SICKNESS AND HEALTH: Carer James McCutcheon, 84, of his wife Beverley, 80, who has Alzheimer’s. Patrick Woods

JAMES McCutcheon and his wife Beverley have almost an entire lifetime of memories together.

From the first time they met at a skating rink to raising a family and travelling the world together.

The McCutcheons have been married and inseparable for 59 years, but unfortunately every day a little bit of the woman he fell in love with all those years ago, slips away.

This is the heartbreak many spouses have to deal with when dementia takes hold of their loved one.

Mr McCutcheon is the sole carer of his wife, 80, and has been since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2010.

For the 84-year-old most of his angst about his wife's failing mental health actually occurred during the diagnosis process.

The Cotton Tree local said he first noticed "a change" in his wife two years prior to diagnosis and his GP at the time refused to make a diagnosis.

It took changing GPs to finally get the confirmation he needed to take the necessary steps to get her the help she needed, and the assistance he required.

"It is a full-time job," Mr McCutcheon said.

"Beverley fortunately sleeps well, eats well and doesn't wander off.

"I am just starting to get respite though, so I can do some art again.

"It is a very isolating condition for Beverley and for me.

"Most people don't know how to interact with her now."

Just like in the movie The Notebook, Mr McCutcheon won't give up on his wife and continues to remind her of better times.

He said he will care for her until he no longer can.

"There won't be a cure in Beverley's lifetime," Mr McCutcheon said.

"I am not looking forward to the day she doesn't recognise me.

"Some say that is the thing they are waiting for so they can move them into a nursing home but everyone is different."

The McCutcheons have three children and four grandchildren.

Topics:  dementia marriage

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