Mytime Active Stories - Alan

Alan, 73, a former policeman and security manager, is the full time carer for his beloved wife, Ann, 68, who has a diagnosis of early onset dementia.

Together, Alan and Ann, who were married in 1974 and have three grown up children and five grandchildren, live in St Paul's Cray, Bromley.

Here, Alan explains how Mytime Active’s Primetime programme helps him to keep active and helps him to create a safe and sociable routine for Ann.

Primetime offers recreational activities, events, sports, dance and keep fit classes for people agedover 60. The activities are designed to help people move more every day, and to offer opportunities for the over 60s to socialise and make new friends.

The programme offers more than 90 physical activity sessions each week, including specialised programmes for dementia wellbeing and those with limited mobility.

Alan says: “Sport has been part of our lives forever.  As a family, we all enjoyed playing cricket, tennis, badminton and swimming.  Exercise was the cornerstone to our family time and I have many fond memories of us all being active together. Since Ann’s diagnosis it is just as important to maintain exercise and seek out wellbeing opportunities.

“When Ann was first diagnosed I soon realised that I would need to retire in order to care for her full time to allow her to live a full life.  It was important to me that Ann was treated with respect and dignity.  I initially reached out to Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich Mind charity and participated with the YODA group (Young Onset Dementia Activists Group). Through their activities we met with Ann Wilbourn, Mytime Active’s Primetime Manager, and we’ve not looked back since.”

Alan and Ann attend many activities through the Primetime programme, including bowling, swimming, golf at the driving range, strength and stability exercise classes plus Christmas and summer parties.. 

Alan says: “All the Primetime team, be that the volunteer buddies or the fitness instructors, have dementia-friendly training.  This gives me peace of mind.  They all treat Ann as a person, not as a condition.  They see the real Ann.  They don’t pity her or patronise her, instead they talk, engage and are mindful of things that might trigger increased anxiety for her.  It means I can sit back, relax and enjoy the sport and social activities.  What’s especially impressive is that this is seamless, at every site, at every activity and with every member of staff or volunteer.  I honestly don’t know what we would do without the Primetime buddies.

“It’s important for both me and Ann to keep active and to keep socialising.  For me personally, I have to stay well and mobile in order to care for Ann properly, and for Ann, having a routine is extremely helpful. We go out every day, and she loves all the activities and events. The strength and stability class is excellent.  It’s designed to help keep us mobile and to help prevent falls, with many of the exercises being seated, which is good for Ann as her frailty increases.”

Alan continues: “Ann was a nurse practitioner.  She loved helping those in the district, but her career was robbed by dementia.  Ann looked after everyone; me, our children, our friends, as well as her charity work for local schools and kids.  She cared for everyone and it's now time for her to be looked after.

“I would recommend Primetime to anyone in the surrounding area who is over 60. There really is something for everyone, every day.  I honestly can’t praise it enough. The Primetime groups are so friendly, and when you have full time caring responsibilities, it can be a lonely and isolating. Primetime is a community within a community. It’s priceless.”

Mytime Active