From in­vis­i­ble woman to CEN­TRE STAGE

The clas­sic strug­gles of the sand­wich gen­er­a­tion mean Sarah-jayne Win­dridge-france is short of me-time

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Real Lives -

‘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

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