Nurse takes on challenge to pay tribute to mum who no longer recognises her
A nurse is determined to raise awareness of dementia after the ‘horrendous’ disease left her struggling to care for her mother, who no longer recognises her.
Kerry Cafferty, from Morpeth, is taking part in this year’s Memory Walk in South Shields, to highlight the condition and raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society.
Kerry, 45, persuaded her mum Patricia Humble, 72, to move in with her last October after it became clear she wasn’t coping well living on her own.
But her condition has now deteriorated so rapidly that, in less than a year, Patricia no longer recognises her own daughter.
Mum-of-two Kerry said: “Mam moved in with us just as her ability to do things began to disappear rapidly. She wasn’t attending to her everyday needs, and was forgetting to eat, drink, sleep and use the toilet.
“The changes in behaviour have been horrendous – she has become restless, agitated, aggressive, repetitive and suspicious. She was never like this. In fact, she was an incredibly independent and talented lady.
“She was managing director of a cleaning company and was also a very talented seamstress. She made both bridal dresses when me and my sister had a joint wedding blessing 10 years ago, and all of the grandchildren’s dresses too. Now she can’t even sew a button.
“It’s hard to come to terms with her not recognising me, although she does seem to know I’m someone she is safe with.
“She put her life on hold for me and looked after my children when I was studying to be a nurse, so this is my turn to give something back to her, but it’s not always easy.”
Kerry has opened her heart about the challenges she has faced over the past 12 months, recording her thoughts in a candid diary.
Kerry is taking part in Memory Walk in Bents Park, South Shields on Saturday, October 9. She will be joined by older sister Donna and 10 of their friends.
Meanwhile, Patricia will be looked after by Kerry’s daughter Chloe, 21, who has also played a significant role in her grandmother’s care along with Kerry’s husband Peter and their 17-year-old son Dan.
Kerry added: “It was actually Peter’s idea to move mam in with us and Dan is hoping to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society too with a parachute jump later in the year.
"My family make a wonderful team and I couldn’t cope without their support. However, mam relies on me and Chloe for her personal care and that’s especially hard on Chloe – she wants to be a granddaughter, not a carer.”
Dan Nelson, community fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society in the North East, said: “For the 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, the impact of coronavirus has been catastrophic.
"Our support services, including our Dementia Connect support line, have been used over 5.5 million times since March 2020, and have proven to be a lifeline for thousands of families, but there are still too many facing dementia alone without adequate support.
“That’s why we’re so grateful to Kerry and others like her who are taking part in this year’s Memory Walk.”
People can find out more about Memory Walk by visiting https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/memorywalk
Anyone wishing to support Kerry can do so by visiting her JustGiving fundraising page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kerry-cafferty