Couple share their dementia experience to encourage carers to get support

Ken and Val Ebbens who were secondary carers to Val's father Len Jones 'Picture Ian Hargreaves (151475-1)
Ken and Val Ebbens who were secondary carers to Val's father Len Jones 'Picture Ian Hargreaves (151475-1)
Blood donation centres such as this one will now be more accessible for gay and transgender people

NATIONAL: Fewer restrictions for gay men donating blood

  • Couple want carers to come forward and ask for help
  • Message is for people to enter the world of the dementia patient
1
Have your say

CARERS should not be ashamed to ask for help and need to enter the world of the dementia person they are caring for.

That’s the message from Val and Ken Ebbens, of Canal Walk, Landport, who were both secondary carers for Val’s father Len Jones.

It’s important that you register yourself as a carer as that’s what you’re doing

Val Ebbens

The pair have read stories on The NewsTake Care Together campaign and have been inspired to share their story.

Len, 85, died in June, eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Val, a nurse, said: ‘My dad loved his family and he loved to tell jokes.

‘We used to play cards every Christmas and one year he said he had forgotten how to play.

‘We thought he was joking but we saw he couldn’t remember and that was different.

‘When he was eating he sometimes got the knife and fork the wrong way round and then he couldn’t understand what was going on and you could see he was embarrassed.’

Mr Jones, a retired factory worker, was diagnosed with dementia in 2008, even though his symptoms had been present for around two years.

Mr Ebbens, a proof reader, said: ‘The start of Len’s journey was like many others, apparently it’s two years for a diagnosis from symptoms starting.

‘Val’s mum Ivy struggled quite a lot to be honest and she didn’t really understand it.

‘She would feel embarrassed and couldn’t understand why her husband couldn’t do the things he did before.

‘Val, her daughter Melissa and I became secondary carers.

‘It’s important you register yourself as a carer as that’s what you’re doing.’

‘The best thing you can do is enter the patient’s world and make them feel comfortable.

‘So if Len wanted to spread butter with a spoon we would help him with that instead of saying it’s wrong.

‘We also got help from a carers’ group and we think it’s important carers do get support.’

Ivy, 85, also suffered from health problems and died last year.

Val added: ‘We never told dad that mum had passed away, but we feel he knew that and just gave up.

‘They were together for 60 years and we felt he knew she wasn’t in his life.’

To get support, call Carers Centre on (023) 9285 1864, Healthwatch Hampshire on 01962 440262 or Healthwatch Portsmouth on (023) 9397 7079.