SANDY and Lyn Connell celebrated 50 years of marriage on April 22 and, despite having a marriage some would label unconventional, the couple are proud that each remains the most important aspect in the other’s life.
Mr Connell (74), a SwanCare resident, was diagnosed with vascular dementia at age 59 and the decision was made six years later for him to move into the Bentley-based aged-care facility.
Mrs Connell (69), who lives in Thornlie, said putting her husband into care was the most difficult and heartbreaking event she had ever had to deal with.
“He’d been experiencing increasingly regular falls and he really needed 24-hour medical care, so we decided it was for the best,” she said. “Sandy has and always will be the biggest part of my life; we’re still a married couple living a different way of life and thanks to the wonderful staff at SwanCare, we’ve achieved both balance and peace in our lives.”
She visits her husband twice a week but misses not being able to share things with him.
“It’s a cruel disease,” she said. “Unless you live with it, you really don’t understand it.
“I still love him. I keep thinking of our marriage vows – for better or for worse, in sickness and in health – and I guess that just sums it up.”
The couple have four children.
“It’s amazing how dementia can take so much from someone’s life, but when Sandy spends time looking at photo albums with myself and perhaps a couple of the SwanCare nurses, we laugh and joke, and that brings back some normality and the chance to see my beautiful husband as he once was,” Mrs Connell said.
“With the knowledge Sandy is well cared for, as well as happy and respected, I’ve been able to have a wonderful quality of life with him but also commence a life for myself, which at first was very difficult.”