When you’re caring for a person with dementia, the people in your support network can make all the difference.

That’s certainly the case with Kaye Hurst, who receives respite support from South Eastern Community Connect staff member Mila Acevedo twice a week. She cares for her husband Barry full-time, and Mila comes in for eight hours a week to support them both. Barry has Alzheimer’s disease, which affects his mood as well as his memory and reasoning abilities – and this has been a big challenge for Kaye. Which is why having Mila visit regularly means so much to her.

A true blessing

“Mila is honestly one of the nicest women you’ll ever meet,” Kaye says. From making soup through to wonderful South American-style bread rolls and helping with our gardening, she’s a true God-send.” She also takes the dogs for a walk, and spends time with Barry while I run errands, such as doctor’s appointments.

Not like they used to be

Kaye first realised things weren’t quite right with Barry when, one morning, he couldn’t get out of bed to take himself to the bathroom. “His legs go every now and then, and he needs a lot of physical support,” she says. A doctor at the Prince of Wales hospital diagnosed him soon after with Alzheimer’s, and also informed Kaye he’d suffered a stroke.

Support needed

Kaye has had her own health challenges, suffering from Atrial fibrillation (AF) in her heart a total of five times. She has also suffered the loss of two of her adult children, and she lives with the grief every day.

kaye hurst

Kaye Hurst is thankful for support during a tough time.

A social worker at the hospital could see she needed support, and put her in touch with Irene at SECC, who arranged for Mila to provide flexible respite care. “Mila comes from 10am to 2pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and it makes such a difference to our week,” Kaye says. “Barry can fall at any time, which limits my options for leaving the house. “So when Mila’s here it gives me the chance to go shopping and get things done, or help with my tennis club. Then I come home and we have a chat.”

The little things make a difference

Caring for Barry can be physically and emotionally challenging, and it can limit her options for spending time with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. However, she says, “the little things in life mean a lot” – and the regular support she receives from SECC truly does keep her going.

To find out more about our Flexible Respite options, call Irene on (02) 8338 8506 or email supportcoord@secc.sydney.

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