Joyce cares for her husband David, after he had a severe stroke that meant he could no longer do things for himself. The couple agreed home was the best place for David, though it's proved tough on them both. Having self-isolated because of the coronavirus outbreak, Joyce explains her worries about what this will mean for their situation.
“When David had his stroke, it changed our lives dramatically. It was like a light being switched out. He was a very fit man, he used to go crown green bowling four times a week, he used to cycle 8 or 9 miles into our nearest town, we used to walk a lot in the country together. All of a sudden, this one day, this switch just switched off and everything absolutely changed.
“It wasn't only David's life that changed, but also my life, the childrens' lives, everything. You can't even think about how people manage until you're in this kind of situation.
How the current situation has affected our relationship
“It has hugely affected my relationship with David, which is really sad. When David had his stroke, one of the stroke team said something to me which was absolutely true. She said, 'You will not be a wife anymore, you will be a carer'. She was totally right.
“They didn't want me to have David at home. They wanted me to get him into a care home straight away. For 18 months after the stroke he couldn't speak, he couldn't do anything at all. It was really dreadful. I insisted on him coming home. Gradually, over the past five years, I've got him to the point where he can now sit up in a wheelchair, eat, and hold a conversation.
“It does put such a strain on your relationship. When you're together 24/7, there's only so much you can talk about.
How coronavirus is impacting us
"Coronavirus is definitely going to affect our relationship further. I've only been isolated for a week now, and already I can feel the difference. The children don't want to come in case they bring anything.
"I don't generally get depressed, but with total isolation, being a carer 24/7 without any breaks or being able to go out anywhere, I think you could soon get very low in your mood. In turn, this would affect you doing your job as a carer. Your fuse will tend to be a little bit shorter.
"I really can't think what's going to happen next. I try not to think further than a day at a time, I'm trying to take every day as it comes because the foreseeable future doesn't look very nice.
"I find the information that's coming from the TV and on social media is very conflicting and confusing. I've got all of my faculties and I'm pretty sharp, but there are still so many things I don't understand. It's ok for these MPs sitting back there saying that elderly people have got to isolate themselves for 12 weeks. 12 weeks is a long time, particularly if you're someone who's caring for someone else and worse off than me. I'm probably one of the lucky ones.
"I worry if I have the slightest cough or sniffle. In my situation, it doesn't bear thinking about. If I became ill, what would happen to David? If he caught anything, well, I don't like to think about it.
"David is getting on ok, but he's a little bit fed up already. He used to go to day care three times a week. He felt like he was getting out and it gave him something to talk about. It's also a break from each other for a few hours. The day care isn't going to happen for at least three months. I don't know what the implications for David will be.
Age UK and the emergency appeal
"Age UK makes you feel that you're connected to someone, that somebody does care. Unless people are in a situation like mine, you don't totally understand what it feels like. You can feel very alone. It's so nice to have a different conversation with someone else. Things like that can be vital to people.
"It's so important for people to donate to this appeal. Older people are often forgotten. We shouldn't be, but we are. We've contributed to this country all of our lives, and at this time of crisis older people need help.
"If it wasn't for Age UK, I really don't know what would happen. I've been very impressed with, and grateful for, the experiences I've had with Age UK. I'm only one person, there are millions of others. Age UK are there for us all."
No one should be left behind
As lockdown lifts, you can help us make sure vulnerable older people aren't forgotten. Donate today to help Age UK open doors for our older generation.