When Kim and Keith Carrington planned for their retirement they imagined lots of laughs, trips abroad, maybe even buying a caravan. But when Keith was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and dementia in 2014 all those plans changed.

“The diagnosis was such a shock. Keith was always the party goer, he used to enjoy socialising and going out and he seemed to withdraw from all of that. We used to go on holiday two or three times a year and it all just stopped, and it has been very difficult to come to terms with.”

Kim’s own health began to suffer with the stress of caring for Keith. After being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and then pneumonia, she took early retirement from her job in April to become a full-time carer for Keith.

To support her in that caring role, Kim has received counselling at St Luke’s as well as attended Carers’ nurse-led 1-2-1 complementary therapies and most recently our Relaxation Plus group to help reduce her stress and anxiety. She has received support in dealing with the emotional aspect of her husband’s illness, as well as looking at the practical aspects of caring for him in the home.

“It took a while for me to learn to slow down and relax because I was always on the go. I’ve had so much broken sleep, sometimes getting up with Keith three to five times a night, so they are helping me get a sleep pattern back again.

“I felt a bit of a prisoner in my own home and very lonely because Keith doesn’t strike up conversation any more or hold a conversation. Sometimes when Keith is in bed I just sit and cry. Just speaking to other people in the group has been wonderful, people in all different situations. The more you hold it in, the worse it is.”

After 25 years together, Kim and Keith got married in June at St Mary’s Church in Weaverham surrounded by their family and friends. Kim said: “It was a beautiful day, I just wish I could do it over and over again. This isn’t the life we thought we would have in our retirement, but we are learning to make the best of each day.”