Page last updated at 00:06 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 01:06 UK

'I just want to protect him'

Denise Lintern on caring for her husband Stanley

Experts from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics are calling for a debate over the ethical dilemmas those caring for dementia patients face.

What are the difficult decisions that carers like Denise Lintern face?

It is well-known that people with Alzheimer's disease - the most common form of dementia - develop an independent streak during the mid-stages of the condition.

This will lead them to wander away from their carers, potentially putting themselves in danger.

Stanley Lintern is no different.

The 65-year-old was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 13 years ago, just after taking early retirement from his post as an chartered engineer with the NHS.

As the disease developed, his wife Denise became concerned about the way he would take off.

Mrs Lintern, 61, from Maidstone in Kent, said: "We were in a shop once and I was paying and he just wandered out. I did not know where he went and it was so worrying."

They are not easy decisions, but we make them with the best of intentions
Denise Lintern

It got to the stage where Mrs Lintern used to lock the gate in the garden or keep the doors in their bungalow locked to stop her husband, who is now in the late stages of the disease, escaping.

"To many people it may seem unfair, but when you are caring for someone with Alzheimer's you are faced with these decisions each day.

"I didn't want Stanley to walk into the road and get knocked down so of course I took precautions.

"I know of people who have tried to climb out of windows to escape. Those caring for them just want to stop them coming to harm."

Harm

Mrs Lintern, who helps run a helpline for the Alzheimer's Society, said she also knows of people forced to hide medication in the food of patients to get them to take it.

Stanley Lintern
Stanley Lintern was diagnosed 13 years ago

"Stanley does not have a problem taking medication, but if he did, I would hide it. Why not?

"If he did not take the medication it would not do him or me any good.

"It is quite often children or partners caring for people with Alzheimer's and we want the best for them so why shouldn't we be left to decide how to look after them?

"They are not easy decisions, but we make them with the best of intentions."




SEE ALSO
Call for improved dementia care
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Call for improved dementia care
22 Nov 06 |  Health

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