Dementia Awareness Week: Rita & David’s Story

Rita and David met in Jersey in the Channel Islands 58 years ago, at the Tropicana Disco. David asked Rita to dance one night.. and the rest is history!  The couple got married 18 months later and went on to have two children.  They spent the first 10 years of their life together living in Jersey where they had their daughter. David ran his own very successful business as a Barber during this time, even cutting the hair of a few famous faces!

 Shortly after their daughter was born, the couple moved to Aberdeen, where David grew up, and had their second child, a son. David opened another very successful Barber shop in Aberdeen. He employed some local girls and taught them to use the clippers, which led to the men getting used to the women cutting their hair – something that was very rare at the time. When Rita and David’s children grew up, they moved to Edinburgh for University. Rita and David fell in love with the city, and when they retired at 60, decided to move here, and have lived here ever since. They have two teenage granddaughters who they are extremely proud of. Rita and David have lived a fabulous life together, even enjoying a three-month world cruise together once they retired.

David was diagnosed with dementia in 2016, and his illness has grown progressively worse ever since. It’s been a gradual thing, but now David has no memory at all, unable to even remember what he had for lunch, or where he has been that day. Rita is immensely grateful and feels blessed and lucky to have the life she has, and the support of her wonderful family around her, but admits that being David’s carer 24/7 was challenging:

“Before LifeCare, it was 24 hours for me as David’s primary carer. It was hard going. I’m blessed that I have the support of my children, but it’s still very difficult. One thing I will say is that it’s taken me quite a few years to understand how to support him. I used to correct him.. I don’t do that anymore as it frustrates him. For example, I would say things like “you’ve got a son and a daughter!” and he would say “No I haven’t!” My biggest learning since his diagnosis is to not tell him he’s wrong and instead go along with what he is thinking. It’s taken me a while to get to this point, and to not get frustrated.”

Rita has found music to be very helpful at home – she plays musicals on her DVD player for David which he thoroughly enjoys. Watching Showboat is his favourite.

In 2022, David’s social worker put Rita in touch with VOCAL, who recommended LifeCare to her. David gets support from Angelo from LifeCare’s Outreach Service. Angelo comes to the house and takes David out and about in the community to places such as the Botanic Gardens. Rita uses this time to go out and socialise with her girlfriends and often goes for lunch. David also comes to LifeCare’s day club on a Wednesday and a Friday, and Rita volunteers at a local charity shop on a Wednesday. The club allows David to connect with others and take part in fun activities and enables Rita to have a bit of respite from her role.

On the support that LifeCare has given to her and David, Rita said:

“I couldn’t live without LifeCare, David would be in a home if I didn’t have the support. I need this break. I couldn’t cope with supporting him 24/7, not now. The staff are all angels, so good with the clients, so patient. They’re all so laid back and have taught me how to be laid back too. There is a wonderful atmosphere when you come into LifeCare, it’s very calm and welcoming. David thoroughly enjoys coming. He still wants to communicate.. even though the way he communicates has changed, he is still a very social person who loves being around people.”

When asked what advice Rita would give to a person whose loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, she said:

“It’s a learning curve. Nobody can tell you really, you just learn as you go along. You learn not to get frustrated and angry and keep calm. In the end, it doesn’t matter… as long as they’re comfortable and happy, that’s all that matters.”


To find out more about how you can get support from LifeCare for yourself or a loved one, click here.