Rosie’s Story

“Overnight your life flips upside-down, but I’m glad my experience is helping people.”

At 33, Flight Lieutenant Rosie Brooks was suddenly faced with the life-changing prospect of becoming a carer, when in early 2019 her mother was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s Disease.

Rosie and her brother have since looked after their 58-year-old mother, Dawn, in Worcester. The strain of caring for Dawn while continuing to serve full-time in the RAF in Whitehall soon began to show on Rosie.

Flt Lt Rosie Brooks
Flt Lt Rosie Brooks

Rosie’s Story

“Overnight your life flips upside-down, but I’m glad my experience is helping people.”

At 33, Flight Lieutenant Rosie Brooks was suddenly faced with the life-changing prospect of becoming a carer, when in early 2019 her mother was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s Disease.

Rosie and her brother have since looked after their 58-year-old mother, Dawn, in Worcester. The strain of caring for Dawn while continuing to serve full-time in the RAF in Whitehall soon began to show on Rosie.

She said: “My whole life was flipped upside-down overnight, and I really struggled with having to look after mum. The adult social care system can be complicated, even for somebody without dementia, and it felt hard to navigate at first.”

The RAF quickly offered Rosie a more flexible working arrangement, and she now looks after Dawn two days a week and at weekends while working the rest of the week in Central London.

Shortly after Dawn’s diagnosis, Rosie found out about a research group organised by the RAF Association and Alzheimer’s Society. She attended a workshop at the RAF Association’s head office, and discovered that she wasn’t the only person serving in the RAF to experience difficulties as a carer.

Rosie said: “It was great to see this issue is being recognised. Everyone in the group told their stories and got involved in suggesting ways in which things could be improved for people with Alzheimer’s and their families. It made me realise I wasn’t alone in feeling overwhelmed by the demands of being a carer.”

The workshop was part of a joint research project by two of the UK’s leading charities – the RAF Association and Alzheimer’s Society – to study the effects of caring for people with dementia over long distances. Together, the charities are working on new ways to support serving personnel like Rosie and the people they care for.

Rosie said: “I’m glad my experiences of being a dementia carer while serving in the RAF are being used to help others in similar situations. It’s been a difficult time for me and my family, but hopefully something good can come out of it.”

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