AN ABINGDON couple who have been married for 69 years are taking part in NHS research into dementia after one was diagnosed with the condition.

Barry and Enid Reeves, both 91, are involved in a study at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust to help researchers understand the experiences of people with dementia.

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Mrs Reeves was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, at Abingdon Community Hospital in 2016.

Mr Reeves said: “It hasn’t changed who Enid is, it just means that everyday things are more difficult for her.

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"She’s not as mobile as she used to be, so it’s not as easy for her to go on walks."

He added: “It affects everything in her memory. Sometimes she can’t remember what we’ve done the day before, like if we’ve been out with the family.”

The pair first met as teenagers in 1942 in their hometown of Birmingham and married aged 22 in 1950. They have three children, three grandchildren and one great granddaughter.

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Mr Reeves, a former mechanical engineer, said: “I don’t think we ever worked that hard at staying together, it came quite naturally. We’ve always been very comfortable with being together.

“I used to play the clarinet and Enid played the violin, although she can’t do that now because of the Alzheimer’s. We don’t dwell on it and prefer to look instead at the things that we still can do."

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He said the couple had become closer following her diagnosis and his increasing role as her carer.

The 91-year-old added: “She’s quite good at going to bed on her own, getting up on her own, having a shower and looking after herself generally.

"What she can’t do is use the gas stove and things like that. She can sometimes make cups of tea, but that’s about it.”

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As part of the study, researchers visit people with dementia and their carers over a two year period to interview them about what helps them with the condition and what stops them from living well.

Mr Reeves said: “We felt that any contribution we could make to improve the situation for others with dementia was a good idea.

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“The study is not for our benefit particularly, we took part to help others and also to give us a structured activity to engage with."

The study will be recruiting participants from dementia services in Oxfordshire until 2023.

Dr Mary Akinola, the study’s principal investigator, said: “To date there is no effective treatment for dementia; we are only able to treat the symptoms and the medications are only effective for a short time.

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“It is essential to understand the experiences of living with dementia because we want to know how a person is affected so that we can find an effective intervention that will help their day-to-day living.

“Research is paramount in gaining this understanding and leading to the development of effective treatments, which include drug and non-drug options.”

Sign up to Join Dementia Research to be told of studies seeking participants via joindementiaresearch.nihr.ac.uk or call 0300 111 5 111 or 0300 222 1122.