‘When they die you are grieving twice’

Alan Perkins was diagnosed with Picks Disease.
Alan Perkins was diagnosed with Picks Disease.

A former mayor of Garstang has spoken of her agony after losing her beloved husband to dementia.

Sandra Perkins, 72, acted as husband Alan’s carer after he was diagnosed aged just 60. He died at the age of 72.

Sue Perkins

Sue Perkins

She is now taking part in the Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk in Blackpool on Sunday October 8 to remember him.

Sandra, who lives in Garstang, lost her husband to Pick’s Disease, a form of dementia.

She said: “You lose the person you have loved and live with for many years.

“When they get dementia, it is like a bereavement as you lose the person they were.

“But then when they die, you lose the physical person so you are bereaved all over again and are grieving twice.”

Sandra was Alan’s carer for eight years before he went into a care home full time when he was in the advanced stages of the illness.

Caring for Alan inspired Sandra to raise awareness of dementia not only by setting up her own dementia café in Garstang but by signing up for Alzheimer’s Society’s Blackpool Memory Walk.

Sandra, who was mayor of Garstang in 2011/12, says: “When Alan went into care I needed to do something to make the time without him more pleasurable.

“I was co-opted on to the town council and eventually became mayor. Alan died, and during my year as Garstang’s first citizen, I raised £3,000 for Dementia Research and £1,000 for a teenage respite facility.

“One of the events was having my head shaved which was quite traumatic for a 68-year-old.

“It was then I decided that I would try to start a Memory Cafe as a lasting memorial to Alan.”

Sandra’s dementia café is held twice monthly at Garstang Library. For more information about attending the coffee morning, call 01995 471236 or 07768 062349.