Pensioner uses photos to help wife who has dementia

2018-07-13 18:30


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A faithful pensioner is using photo albums to help his wife, who has dementia, remember their lives together – just like in the film The Notebook.

James Dargan (76), from Hertfordshire in England, was devastated when his teenage sweetheart, Judy (74), was diagnosed with dementia three years ago.

After tying the knot in 1965, James was determined to never give up on his wife, who started forgetting their 53 years together.

Now, despite the fact that the disease is rapidly progressing, James uses their photo albums daily to help Judy remember the memories they’ve shared.

They’ve been compared to the characters in the 2004 film The Notebook, in which an elderly couple played by James Garner and Gena Rowlands reminisce about their romance while the wife battles dementia.

“I’ve been told our story has similarities to the film The Notebook but I’m just trying to make the best out of a bad situation,” James said.

He’s so devoted to caring for Judy at home he’s even learnt how to do his wife's make-up and hair.

James said Judy smiles when she sees the pictures in the albums.

“She smiles when she looks at the photos but I don’t think they really bring back memories for long. Going through our photos is one of my favourite things to do as it reminds me of the amazing life we had together,” he added.

They first met when Judy was 14 but it wasn’t until she was 18 that they met again and married two years later. James and Judy went on to have two sons.

“It’s been hard watching dementia take over Judy’s life as she was once such a loving and caring woman. I’ll never give up on my wife. I care for her at our home and while I’m fit enough I’ll be her full-time keeper,” James says.

“I don’t think I’m doing anything extraordinary. Judy took care of me for more than 50 years but now it’s my turn to look after her.”

James uses their photo albums most days to help Judy and often talks her through each stage of their life so she understands.

“It breaks my heart that she doesn’t remember our life but I do my best to try to help her remember. The photo albums are great as I’ve organised them so they show a timeline of Judy’s life,” he added.

After Judy lost the ability to put on her own make-up and look after her appearance, James took matters into his own hands.

“I taught myself how to do Judy’s make-up and hair. It doesn’t take me long as I keep it natural but I ensure she always looks her best.

“I also have to bath Judy, feed and dress her and I help her get into bed every night.

“She has a little pamper once a week and has her hair and nails done.

“Judy used to be a hairdresser and model so her appearance has always meant a lot to her, which is why I still make the effort for her now,” he said.

James has refused to place Judy in a care home as he believes no one can look after her as well as he can.

“I look after Judy 24/7 and although some people think it’s stressful, it’s not. Judy is happy at home and I’d never want to leave her,” James said. 

“I hope our story shows how strong our love for each other is. She means the world to me and we’ve had such an amazing life together.

“She’d do the same for me if she could. Judy was extremely caring for her own parents when they got old.

“Being with Judy still makes me incredibly happy even though our lives are just so different now.”

Source: Magazine Features

Read more on:    health

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.