Welwyn veteran opens up about late husband's dementia

PUBLISHED: 10:57 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:57 17 May 2017

Jan (in red) and Victor Burt with carer, Sandy Ballard. 05 Mar 11. Photo: Tom Parkes.   ©Tom Parkes.  +44 (0)7831 214060.  mail@tomparkes.com.  www.tomparkes.com

Jan (in red) and Victor Burt with carer, Sandy Ballard. 05 Mar 11. Photo: Tom Parkes. ©Tom Parkes. +44 (0)7831 214060. mail@tomparkes.com. www.tomparkes.com

Tom Parkes

A veteran from Welwyn who has campaigned to get Admiral Nurses into Hertfordshire has opened up about her late husband's dementia for Dementia Awareness Week.

Jan Burt, 65, lost her husband Victor to dementia in 2015 and since 2010 has raised over £70,000 for Dementia UK.

Victor was diagnosed in 2004 and Jan cared for him until his last day. She received “very little help” until a friend told her about Admiral Nurses, which specialises in dementia care.

Jan campaigned to get Admiral Nurses into Hertfordshire and then began raising money for Dementia UK.

Jan told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “Victor looked great and if you did not know he had dementia you would not guess until you tried to converse with him.

“At the end, he could not hold a conversation or walk, in fact I wished that he had had cancer instead of this disease and a lot of other carers that I know feel the same way.

“Unless you have been a carer of a loved one with dementia, you cannot fully appreciate that any help or support that can be given to make the life of a carer less stressful is welcomed.”

The former Royal Air Force air loadmaster added: “No-one can tell you what happens next or what to expect when the symptoms begin to change like in other illnesses, but an Admiral Nurse helps and supports the carer to understand and cope with this illness as well as their emotions.

“To see the person you love forget who your friends and family are was difficult.

“I was lucky as I believe he always knew who I was as he smiled or reacted when I entered the room and I was able to care for him at home until his final days when he passed away peacefully in hospital after having aspirated pneumonia.”

Jan said: “There’s a thief out there. It’s robbing memories, the ability to talk, to eat, walk, get dressed, shower, and recognise loved ones.

“It’s robbing people of their ability to be normal human beings. I know I have seen it happen over a period of 11 years.

“It’s called dementia and we’ve got to do something about it.”

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