Care for Carers: “It’s nice to chat to people who really understand what you’re going through.”

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11th November 2020

It’s safe to say that the first lockdown was made that little bit more bearable by the weather. But with the days being much shorter as we approach winter, the way we’re able to spend our time is changing.

As part of our Care for Carers campaign we spoke to Jean Shelton about life and lockdown, and how she’s coped caring for her husband Jon, and the prospect of lockdown during winter.

Where it all began

Jon and Jean’s love story began in 1975. John worked overseas in the oil industry for many years and Jean worked as an au pair in Italy. On a weekend where they both returned to their hometown from work, they went out with friends and Jean tells us that from then, “that was it”, their relationship blossomed and was set to be full of love and laughter.

Fast forward to the late 2000s when Jon was admitted to hospital with a UTI, and his symptoms masked the early signs of Jon’s Alzheimer’s. Jon went on to spend two weeks in a rehab unit where nurses worked hard to manage Jon’s behaviour. Jean was told by the nurses and social services that Jon needed to be in a Care Home but was adamant that she wanted to try and take care of Jon at home.

Jon’s diagnosis and managing today

“It was awful at first and I really struggled, but as time went on and I learned more about Dementia we settled into a good routine.”

During lockdown, Jean has tried her best to keep their routine as normal as possible. The Alzheimer’s Society run an activity called ‘Singing for the Brain’ which they have continued to go to, as well as enjoying a drumming circle they’re a part of, run by Carers Link. Jean told us that they have both risked their own health to stay social because the strict rules around shielding were just as dangerous for their mental health.

“It’s better than being sat in a room and staring at four walls. You need that stimulation – come wintertime that’s not going to be as easy.”

Jean is confident this has played a huge part in keeping Jon as stable as he is.

The entertainment lounge at Revitalise Sandpipers where Jon & Jean have enjoyed many breaks

The realities of lockdown

Caring for Jon without any additional support during the first two months of lockdown really took its toll on Jean. The couple had to cancel their break in March. Jean tells us how devastating it was:

“I could cry now thinking about it. As soon as I come home (from Revitalise) I put the countdown on to the next break. It’s such an amazing break. A whole week without any responsibility.” 

Having been on a total of 10 breaks to Revitalise Sandpipers, Jean loves the relationship her and Jon have built with the staff and other guests. Jean can enjoy her break without worrying about leaving Jon, and Jon thoroughly enjoys his time away meeting new people. 

“Treasured Moments week isn’t like any other. It’s nice to chat to people who really understand what you’re going through and the carers are just such a good support to you.”

Jean and Jon also missed out on their September break.

“I’m quite upbeat most of the time but just the thoughts of dark winter months. Where can you go in wintertime with all the restrictions?”

Jean and Jon are not alone. There are so many carers and their loved ones struggling to cope because of restrictions in place for taking vital respite breaks. We are here to help with financial support if you desperately need a change of scene. Call 0303 303 0145 for more information, or email bookings@revitalise.org.uk to speak to one of our friendly bookings advisors. 


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