Carer - Sara FirthDespite having health conditions of her own, caring and dedicated Sara Firth, aged 52, has been the main carer for her husband, Firdy, since he was diagnosed with early and rapid onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 67 in 2015.

Sara and her family started to notice changes in her husband’s behaviour that signalled that something was wrong. This prompted Sara to encourage her husband to seek medical advice and support.

Elaborating further Sara said: “We had concerns in October 2014 when we started to notice changes in his routine, things that he’d always done, that he suddenly stopped doing.  For example he always used to do the lottery every Wednesday and Saturday, for years since it started, and he suddenly stopped doing it. He also used to keep a daily diary where he would write about his working day and all of a sudden he stopped doing that as well. When I noticed I asked him why but he didn’t know.  Then week-by-week something else cropped up;  we found him putting food into the microwave to heat up, but then forgetting to turn it on and then eating it cold and not realising.   It took from the October, when I realised that something wasn’t quite right, to the December to actually get him to go to the doctors with me because he was in denial. The onset of the condition was extremely rapid; in March 2015 he was still working and by June 2015 he had been formally diagnosed.”

Sara and their six children were left devastated by the diagnosis and watching their loved one struggling with the disease.  Sara said: “Even to this day we have not managed to fully get our heads around the devastation. This is my soulmate.  We’ve always been really close and done everything together and all of a sudden this person, who I love, slowly started to disappear.  Firdy used to be very supportive of me; he was my rock and the family’s rock and we no longer had that rock anymore.  I had to stay strong for the children and they stayed strong for me. The Care Trust was great and supported us all through this difficult time.”

Sara credits the carers pop up café with offering carers a place to go to recharge batteries. Sara said: “You can get very isolated as a carer so the Carers Hub not only provides you with practical advice and information as a carer, but also gives you a place to go to where you keep a little bit of yourself and your own sense of identity.”

Sara had enjoyed a career working within the NHS and social care services for twelve years before her husband was diagnosed with the disease. Sara continued to juggle the commitments of a demanding career with caring for her husband, until her caring responsibilities made it impossible to continue to work in the career that she had loved.

Welcoming the new branch of the Carers Hub opening, Sara said: “It will help carers who reside in the Craven area feel so much more connected and help reduce isolation. When I was working in the Craven area, and the first branch of the Carers Hub first opened two years ago at Horton Park in Bradford, I was concerned that carers living in Craven would encounter difficulties accessing the Carers Hub activities, as they were Bradford-based, so it’s great that the Care Trust has listened and acted upon the feedback.  It will make such a difference to the people in Craven who are caring for loved ones. It will enable them to recharge, meet likeminded people in similar situations and access support to help them in their caring roles.”

 

Find out more about activities and support within hub visit or call the information line 01274 251112 or email carerhub@bdct.nhs.uk

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