My name is Denise Lintern and I look after my husband Stan
who has Alzheimer's.
Stan has now had Alzheimer's, diagnosed, for ten years.
He probably had it at least a couple of years before that,
but it wasn't apparent then.
I really didn't know anything about Alzheimer's.
All the other illnesses I've learnt along the way,
but, really, I didn't know how that was going to be,
whether he had Alzheimer's, whether they were the normal signs
that you would expect someone with Alzheimer's to have.
Really, initially, I didn't really want to use that word,
so I was just asking questions in a roundabout way,
to see whether the pattern for Alzheimer's fitted my husband.
We had a good relationship with our GP
and he asked how Stan was and I told him I'd got these concerns
and he said, "I think you ought to get Stan to come and see me."
So I suggested it to Stan and he said, "What's he going to do?"
"I'm just a bit forgetful. There's nothing they can give me for that."
And eventually I did manage to get him to the doctor.
So having got him to the GP,
he quickly started him on the road to the tests,
and on my birthday we were given the diagnosis that he'd got Alzheimer's.
They asked me then whether we should tell Stan about it
and I said, "He's only going to look at my face."
Because obviously I was very upset about it.
But I said, "You've got to tell him."
His question was, "How long have I got to live?"
They said, "You're not really going to die from Alzheimer's,
perhaps something associated."
"You don't know what part of the brain will be affected."
And he said that was fine.
Pull your jumper down.
You don't know how it's going to progress,
you don't know what timescale you're working to at all,
so you have to do the things that you want to do in a hurry, really,
so we overdosed on holidays initially.
But each time there's been a deterioration,
I have to get my head round it first.
The loss of his speech was quite something.
He just, almost overnight, stopped talking.
And his mobility, that was almost overnight as well.
We went on holiday to Lourdes
and he fell over the first night we were there.
We got a wheelchair because he was in, obviously, a bit of pain.
When we got home, he was X-rayed
and found that he'd actually cracked a vertebrae,
so in sitting to heal that, he forgot how to walk.
So that was quite dramatic, because it was in a short space of time
that he was mobile and then he wasn't.
Really, it is unpredictable.
I think in Stan's case we're probably fortunate
that it's affected things which are not life threatening.
His basic health is very good.
It's just things like speech, mobility.
Now that I have to liquidise all his food,
which was the latest problem,
he doesn't really eat meat as such,
because that's a bit more difficult to digest,
or to get down to a liquidisable form.
You're having a stretch now, aren't you?
You're having a stretch now.
Stan is always more alert when he's out
than when he's just stuck at home.
There's not really much going on.
Obviously he doesn't watch television.
I have music on all the time,
but whether he appreciates it, I don't know.
But he's always better off when he's outside.
That will do.
If a friend of mine was worried,
I would suggest that they go to their GP.
The GP can do the various tests, starting with simple blood tests,
because it could be an under or overactive thyroid,
they could be depressed, they could have a urine infection.
All sorts of things it could be
before they would want to do a diagnosis of Alzheimer's.
And then they would have to do some mental tests,
and then they would be referred to a consultant,
who would do further tests then, a lot of psychological tests,
to ascertain what the problem is.
There is a lot of help and support out there.
You may not be ready to accept it initially
because initially not much has changed from one day to the next.
It's as problems arise that I think you need to know
that there's other people out there suffering the same problems
and how they've overcome it.
No two people are going to be the same and go down the same road.
It could be they might have eating problems
or behavioural problems, they may be aggressive,
and all these things people handle differently.
To know that there's help out there,
they should use their helpline, go the carers' groups,
all for support, because both need support,
the sufferer at the time, while they're still aware,
and the carer themselves,
and there's a lot of support from each other.