From invisible woman to CENTRE STAGE
The classic struggles of the sandwich generation mean Sarah-jayne Windridge-france is short of me-time
‘When I visit my dad, we’ll often do the crossword together, and I’m reminded of the brilliant man I grew up with. A former RAF officer, Dad was always organised, impeccably dressed and keen for a challenge. However, last year, he was diagnosed with dementia and since then I’ve become his main carer.
I noticed a change in him soon after my mother died of cancer in 2015. At first, I thought it was a side-effect of grief, but within six months, he was diagnosed with mixed dementia – a combination of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
There are peaks and troughs – sometimes he’ll ring me 30 times a day, asking the same question, most often about dog food or shopping. He still lives in his own home. I prepare his meals, walk his Yorkshire terrier and check he’s had his medication, and he has wonderful volunteer befrienders from Age UK.
As well as Dad, I have to think about my children, Archie, 14, Jeremy, 12, and Scarlett, who’s nine. Archie was born with profound special needs, meaning he is unable to talk. He’s a wheelchair user and is fed through a tube, so he too needs around-the-clock care. I often feel like my life is a juggling act.
My mum was a hairdresser and I’ve felt reluctant to experiment with my own style since she died. Now, I finally feel ready for a change. Looking ahead, I’m determined to focus on the good things because those little everyday moments can bring so much joy.’
Sarah-jayne wears: Jacket and dress, both Zara