After This Man Was Forced Into A Mental Hospital, His Wife Of 50 Years Chose To Break Him Out

Dominic Sivyer watched as his grandparents’ 50-year marriage unraveled due to his grandfather’s dementia diagnosis and required hospital stay. But what happened next was even more stunning – his grandmother brought her husband home after a realization of her own.

Sivyer chronicled his grandparents’ healthcare saga because the pair had always been a big part of his life. “My relationship with [them] has always been unusually close,” he said in his BBC documentary, Granddad, Dementia & Me.

“When my parents separated, my granddad stepped in,” Sivyer went on, adding, “He filled the gap that my dad left behind and we became inseparable.” It wouldn’t be until 2014 that their bond would be tested by an incurable disease.

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That year, Sivyer’s grandfather Tom, 79, found out that he had vascular dementia. In general, the disease greatly reduces a person’s mental ability – day-to-day activities become difficult as sufferers may lose their memory, ability to communicate or overall judgment and reasoning.

Ten percent of dementia cases are vascular, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked or otherwise reduced. In many cases, the disease takes hold in the wake of one or more strokes or a blood vessel-related condition.

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Sivyer told the BBC that his grandfather’s diagnosis spurred had him to begin filming. “I started this documentary to try and make sense of an illness that was taking the most important man in my life. But what I found defied expectation,” he said.

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At the start of filming, he watched as his grandparents’ decades-long marriage started to crumble after the diagnosis. Sivyer’s grandmother, Pam, recalled in a clip from the documentary, “[Tom] would lose his temper very easily. Swearing, shouting, just abuse.”

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Sivyer’s grandfather was eventually sectioned under the United Kingdom’s Mental Health Act, which gives police or medical professionals the power to detain someone who suffers from a mental health condition and may hurt themselves or others because of it.

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After being sectioned, Tom had little idea where he was. “Why did we come to this hotel then? Did they direct us here?” he asked Sivyer. “You’re not in a hotel, you’re in a hospital,” his grandson replied.

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Later, Pam had to explain to her husband why he was in the hospital – and he cast the blame for his situation squarely on her. “Have you put me here?” he asked. “No, they sectioned you because you weren’t taking care of yourself and because you’ve got dementia,” Pam answered. “Oh, so that’s it,” her husband responded, his anger growing.

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“What’s dementia? I forget things. Well, I haven’t forgotten that they stuffed me here,” said Sivyer’s grandfather. “What’s mental about me? I’m fit, I want to get out of this place and I don’t want to listen to crap,” he added.

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But the rising tension between husband and wife meant that Tom couldn’t simply leave the hospital and go home. “It was worse than I thought,” Pam said with tears streaming down her face. “I just don’t know where to go from here.”

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Fortunately, the Sivyer family found a solution. “There was no way he could go back to living with Nan, so my aunt Becky agreed to take him in,” Sivyer said. And she had an idea that could possibly bring her parents back together despite their heartbreak.

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“If we can get you calm, so you don’t get angry, then it’d be easy for Mom. [She] wouldn’t have a problem in looking after you,” Tom’s daughter, Becky, advised. But her father seemed to think that the plan wouldn’t work for more reasons than just his demeanor.

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Tom admitted to his daughter, “I don’t know, I just think we’ve fallen out of love. Fifty years, I’ve been with her.” Later, the realities of his health and personal life seemed to set in. He said, “My world has collapsed.”

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That remark might just have made what happened next an unexpected twist in the story. One day, Pam picked up the phone only to hear Tom on the other end of the line. “He was just crying. He said, ‘It’s breaking my heart,’” she recalled.

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That conversation made Pam face her own doubts about their situation. “I tried to tell myself that I didn’t love him or that I didn’t want him there, but it wasn’t true. I was just kidding myself,” she said. “I thought, ‘This isn’t the end of our story. It can’t be,” Pam added.

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With that, Pam knew what she had to do. “I just said, ‘Bring him home, bring him here now,’” she recalled. And as it turned out, she would eventually consider that sentence “the best remark [she] ever made.”

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As soon as he returned home, “the change in him was instant and dramatic,” Sivyer said. “While granddad still has problems with his short-term memory, his moods have improved and the anger and aggression have subsided,” he further reported.

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And those differences couldn’t have meant more to anyone than his wife of 50 years, Pam. “Now, I can cope,” she said. More importantly, though, the couple would get to finish their story the right way. “I can love him and enjoy our last few years together,” she said.

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