We’re in our eighth year of partnership with the Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland. Both of these vital charities provide life-changing support to serving and ex-serving members of the Armed Forces, and their families. Today, we’re highlighting the story of Dorothy Weir. Dorothy is just one of the many people who are infinitely grateful for the Royal British Legion.
Dorothy Weir’s story
Dorothy, 75, lives with her husband Angus, who served in the army for roughly a decade. Sadly, Angus suffers from a number of serious health problems, which affect him both physically and mentally. He can’t stand or walk on his own for very long, and due to his vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s, his memory is not what it once was.
For around six years, Dorothy has been his sole carer. While she’s glad to be there for her husband, the weight of the responsibility has had a massive impact on her life. Angus’s lack of short-term memory can be particularly draining.
Dorothy explained: “His long-term memory is brilliant – he can talk about his time in the army until the cows come home! But, he can’t tell you what happened yesterday.
“This can be a challenge because of the constant questioning. I’m always having to go over things that I know I’ve already said.”
Dorothy needs to be constantly vigilant, knowing that, if left alone for as little as an hour, Angus could end up having a fall.
“Even though I know he can’t help it, I’m human too and sometimes I could just walk away.
“You live with it on a day-to-day basis, you get up in the morning and don’t know what that day is going to bring. It’s relentless.”
Support from the Royal British Legion
Over the past year, Dorothy was put in touch with the Admiral Nurses service, which is provided by the Royal British Legion in partnership with Dementia UK.
Helen, the assigned nurse, has helped Dorothy feel like she’s more than just a carer.
“When you become a carer for someone, that’s what identifies you. Even my children would describe me as ‘Dad’s carer’, so you lose some of who you are. Helen focuses on me as me, as my own person.”
Helen helps Dorothy to further understand her husband’s health problems. But they don’t just talk about Angus, for which Dorothy is particularly grateful.
“We talk about crafting and our similar interests, which I don’t normally get to talk about with anybody. I also talk to her about feeling lonely. I can have all the children here and still feel a bit lonely, and she understands that.
“One day she phoned me up and I was having a bad day and couldn’t stop crying, but Helen calmed me down. She even followed up by sending me a relaxation CD and some articles she thought would be good for me to read. I can’t speak highly enough about her.
“The thing is, she’s mine, she’s not about Angus. Understandably, everybody else is about Angus, he’s the one with the complex needs, but carers are often side-lined. Very few of the professionals ever ask, ‘how is this impacting on you?’ But Helen is all about how I’m feeling.”
An extra worry for Dorothy is dealing with their finances. After she and Angus had moved from Kent to Wales, they moved into what they were told would be a long-term rental property. But after six months, they were told they had to leave, and they simply couldn’t afford to pay for a removal company.
Helen, Dorothy’s Admiral Nurse, stepped in, and the Royal British Legion provided the couple with the money they needed.
“The help I’ve been given is just amazing. We can’t give much back to the RBL but what little bit we can give, we will.”