Friendship, support and a new focus

Through Agewell’s Kingfisher Buddies groups, Reuben Harris has found friendship, support and a new focus in life.

12 years ago, Reuben’s wife, Mal, was diagnosed with semantic dementia which means she has difficulty recognising familiar faces.

“The dementia progressed quite slowly initially,” explains Reuben. “At that time there was little support about and I didn’t know where I could go for help. You just had to get on with it. Mal did go to a group for a while but everyone was in their 70s and 80s and she was only in her 50s.

“By early 2018, I knew I had to give up work to look after her. I heard about Agewell’s Kingfisher Buddies group which had just started in Wednesbury and we went along. From day one I helped serve the tea and toast and it was great! We’d been stuck in the house 24/7 for so long. At the group I found other guys I could talk to while making the tea and we built up friendships, which is what you need when you have someone with dementia.

“When the group set up at Portway Lifestyle Centre we went there too and then I was asked if I’d like to help out when the Blackheath group started up. The groups give me a break and Mal absolutely loves them. She can’t wait for them to start and gets ready hours early!

“From previously having nothing, this is brilliant. I talk to the other carers and we share our experiences and I know I can call on them and they’ll help.”

Reuben has recently become an Agewell volunteer, helping to unlock the rooms for the groups, set up the tables and chairs and do whatever’s needed!

“I wouldn’t know what to do without the groups,” Reuben says.