FOR Orange man Peter Coleman watching his wife suffer from dementia is like watching your best mate slip away.
Mr Coleman, 70, and his wife Elaine, 71, have been married for 48 years and in that time they have become the best of friends, had a family and lived a full life, but now dementia is ripping all that away.
The days when she can’t remember her own children’s names are becoming more frequent and Mr Coleman has now become her full-time carer.
“It’s hard to see my wife in that position, she was a very active person,” he said.
Mr Coleman was one over 50 people who attended a dementia information session in Orange yesterday at the Orange Botanic Gardens.
Aged care psychiatrist Dr Carolyn Jones told people at the information session that dementia symptoms were often overlooked by family members.
“It’s a mental illness and it’s not a normal part of ageing,” she said.
“People assume memory loss is a normal part of ageing ... they just accept that these changes are happening.
Dr Jones said family members often support someone through the dementia symptoms rather than seeking medical help.
Mr Coleman said the information session was very helpful and gave him advice on services that may help him to care for his wife.
“There’s very few things you can plan, you don’t talk to her about anything,” he said.
“Socialising isn’t there, it’s more about being a director of operations.”
Mr Coleman said time constraint is the biggest challenge in looking after someone with dementia.
With her condition progressing he now takes car of his wife’s bathing and dressing along with all the household chores.
“You have got to look after all their needs,” he said.
“It’s just a gradual decline, she’s losing more and more of these skills everyday.
“Sometimes you’ve got to think about the funny side of things ... she’s still your partner after all.”