Dennis: An iPad is giving us our lives back

16 Nov 2020

Dennis, 84, cares for his wife Sheila, who has Dementia. They’ve been together for 54 years. Sheila has been living with Dementia for a decade and it has progressively worsened. Dennis is her main carer. She attends the Complex Needs Day Centre twice a week to give Dennis some respite.

He says: “Learning how to use an iPad has made me feel so proud of myself. I never thought I’d ever use one or learn something new at my age. I can now download apps and check the rugby scores. I use news and sports apps and I’ve tried game apps with Sheila.”

Dennis does all the housework and struggles to fit it in around his role of caring for Sheila. While she spends time at the day centre he can do his housework and relax for a couple of hours until he goes to pick her up.

He has a computer but when he goes into the spare room to use it she gets upset and sad that he has left.

“It’s been really hard for me to see Sheila deteriorate and change. She gets very confused and it saddens me to see my wife changing with this condition. Our lifestyle has changed dramatically in the last 10 years since Sheila was diagnosed. We used to go out for meals and socialise. I used to play snooker and have a season ticket for our local rugby team and I can’t do those things now because my main priority is Sheila.”

He admits: “Even though I’m not alone, I’m always with Sheila, I can’t have conversations like I used to and I do get very lonely. I’ve not felt confident enough to visit a carers group but after building my confidence with using the iPad and finding out about Carers Leeds Dementia carers group I think I might visit one.”

He continues: “I find it has helped me so much to have a bit of my life back. A little bit of the old me. ”

Dennis can’t go and see the rugby anymore but he can catch up using TV apps and follow the scores and fixtures online. The amount of time he spends each day using the iPad depends on how Sheila is coping.

When she is at the day centre he will put the radio app on to listen to music while he does a spot of gardening.

He says: “It really cheers me up, I love learning a little bit more about it, and downloading new apps.”

“I put Dolly Parton on YouTube and love seeing Sheila join in. She taps her feet and clicks her fingers and when she smiles it makes me smile.”

“No one knows what it’s like to be a dementia carer until you live through it. It’s hard to put it into words. But this helps. Finding the iPad gives me enjoyment every day and gives me back some ‘me time’. I also use it to have more lovely moments with Sheila. It’s given us both a bit of our old life back.”