Ian is one of several unpaid carers in East Sussex to take part in our inter-generational Carers’ Words, Carers’ Lives heritage project. Ian took part in a short film in which he tells his story and talks about an object that has special meaning to him.



“My name’s Ian. I’m caring for my wife who is suffering from dementia.”

Can you talk about some of the changes in your lives?

Mary was getting absent-minded; a specialist diagnosed she had early stages of dementia. It was a shock. Mary can’t speak much. She can understand what we’re saying but it’s difficult to get a reaction. Carrying the care of her in your heart…it’s getting worse, that’s the trouble…I just sit in the car and cry. Mary had a long career in teaching, we had children and holidays, and we'd a happy retirement. We’ve tended to be so self-sufficient together. We came and went and did as we pleased, thought it would go on forever, but it’s so sudden, it’s overtaken us. One difference I’ve noticed with other carers – most of them seem to have families quite close whereas I haven’t. I’ve got nobody who can pop round for half an hour. It all has to be organised and planned. 

How did you come across Care for the Carers?

I went to one of these day centres with Mary; they told me about courses Care for the Carers run. I was made aware of the Forum and that was a big step forward because at the Forum there were all these groups and organisations, and I was able to find out so much more than I’d learnt before. That was great help, and it led to carers’ groups meetings. Other people were in the same boat; we were able to compare notes and help each other.

What is helping you through these times?

I find it helpful having a pet. Mary and I have always had dogs, and our recent acquisition is Katie. She makes a fuss of Mary, and Mary makes a fuss of her and likes to stroke her. Katie’s a very tactile little dog.

What is an object that is precious to you?

I got interested in silversmithing as a hobby when I was quite young – and one of the things I was interested in was family trees. It turned out that years and years ago our family had a crest, which was a mermaid. I decided to make a mermaid out of silver as our silver wedding came up; I made it for Mary, as something special for us both.

“Sixty years together, and it’s so different now.”