Ralph is 82 years old, and for the last eight years he has been caring for his wife who is living with dementia.

Three years ago, Ralph was put in touch with Sam Cunningham from our First Connect Team. Sam share’s Ralph’s story below.

Lifechanging Care for a Carer

When I first met Ralph, three years ago, he had been his wife's sole carer for around five years. He told me that his caring responsibilities had taken a huge toll, leaving him utterly exhausted and emotionally overwhelmed.

Over the course of my first few visits with Ralph I just listened, giving him the chance to unburden himself of some of the thoughts and feelings he had been experiencing. This emotional support allowed Ralph to open up and after just a few visits I could see a glimmer of Ralph’s joy and enthusiasm for life shining through.

Ralph told me that one of the main problems he had faced as a carer was that he had felt incredibly lonely and that he had become very isolated.

“When you care for someone, it is a 24/7 job. It can feel endless, and you become very lonely. If I’m honest I had really become a recluse.” Ralph

A sense of purpose

I felt Ralph would really benefit from joining some of our social groups. He agreed to give them a go, and he really hasn’t looked back since. Ralph has been involved in a number of our wellbeing groups over the years, including a carer’s group, a men’s group and even a singing group (where he has been known to delight us all with a solo from time to time). Joining the groups has given Ralph such a boost. He has gone from strength to strength, and his enthusiasm and openness have been so inspiring to see.

I really admire Ralph’s courage and resilience, but what has impressed me most is his innate drive to support others.

No matter how Ralph might be feeling he comes to every group meeting with positivity and an infectious enthusiasm. He lifts the mood of any group that he’s in. He’s always on hand to welcome new members or to support others who are experiencing similar challenges to his own.

Joining our wellbeing groups has given Ralph a sense of purpose again – he feels he is a part of something, and he has a community now – and this has had a profound effect on his health and wellbeing.

“I have found the groups so interesting. Getting to meet new people and try different activities has had such a positive impact on me. I really would recommend them to anyone who is going through a difficult time. Thanks to Age NI I am no longer lonely, I’ve made friends who I know will continue on with me through the rest of my life.” Ralph

Thank you

Being able to provide this level of intensive emotional support at a critical time in someone’s life just wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of Age NI donors and supporters. Last year, thanks to this generosity, Age NI was able to help 5,396 older people in need.

From all of the staff at Age NI and the older people we support, thank you for caring and thank you for supporting us.

Sam Cunningham
First Connect Coordinator, Age NI

We need your help to prove expert advice and support to more older people like Ralph, who are in need of respite and friendship at difficult times in their lives.

Please donate to our summer appeal today.