Putting a loved one into a care home is one of the hardest and most heart-breaking things anyone can have to do.
But a Sheffield woman who has had to make the incredibly difficult decision about her husband of 50 years has come forward to share her story in a bid to help those facing similar situations.
Evelyn Burton cared for her husband John at home for several years after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
But after his condition deteriorated and he started to become aggressive towards her, Evelyn and her family took the decision this summer that John would be best in a care home.
Evelyn, who is 74 and lives in Woodhouse Mill, said: “It is like a bereavement before it happens.”
She said: “I would say to everybody else in the same situation that when you know, you have to let go and you have not got to feel guilty.
“You have got to spend your life with your family and grandchildren – before I wasn’t spending time with them.”
Evelyn was interviewed by The Star last year about the challenges of caring for a loved one.
She was among 50,000 people in the city – around 10 per cent of Sheffield’s population – who was caring for a loved one who is older, ill or disabled.
At the time, her typical day involved getting up between 5am and 6am to carry out jobs around the house before spending her time making sure her husband’s needs were met.
With the rest of her family living away from Sheffield and working full-time, the majority of the responsibility for caring for John fell on her shoulders.
She was provided with support by charities Making Space and the Alzheimer’s Society.
Evelyn said that, along with her family, both organisations helped when it became clear that looking after John at home was no longer an option.
Looking after John had started having an impact on her health and she eventually realised she could no longer act as his carer.
Evelyn said: “I couldn’t cope and I couldn’t walk for a while.
“I tried to look after him as much as I could. He started getting a bit aggressive and it wasn’t him. It was like another person. I knew I had got to do it.
“It is very hard to let go.
“It is very hard but I got help.
“The Alzheimer’s Society and Making Space have been very good at helping me all the way through with it.”
After John was moved into the care home, Evelyn was advised not to see him for a few months to allow him to settle in.
She has seen him for his 80th birthday and the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary and said while John is not fully aware of his surroundings, he is now getting the dedicated care that he needs.
Her son John said during a family trip to Whitby it became clear that his mother was unable to keep looking after his dad.
“He didn’t know where he was,” he said.
He said the family have noticed a positive change in their mother since his father, a former steelworker, went into Housteads Residential Home in Handsworth.
“We are trying to say to people that if they are in a similar situation, they need to speak up and get it sorted out.
“When I go and see my father he is still my dad. He is not suffering because he doesn’t know what is happening. It is a cruel disease for the families of people affected by it but he seems to be happy enough where he is.”