Carer Puts Life On Hold for Dementia Dad


Presenter Teena Gates reveals her life has been put on hold to care for 95-year-old dad after he developed dementia

PRESENTER Teena Gates has told how she’s put her life on hold to care for her beloved father.

Dubliner Teena, also a ­popular journalist and author, opened up about the challenges of providing round-the-clock care for dad Terry Martin (95).

 "It’s a little like seeing the child and parent just literally reversing roles," Teena said.

“It’s a little like seeing the child and parent just literally reversing roles,” Teena said.Credit: Bryan Meade – The Sunday Times

 Teena says she missing going out to the mountains and on long-distance swims.

Teena says she missing going out to the mountains and on long-distance swims.Credit: Paul Sharp – The Sun Dublin

Terry, 95, has vascular dementia as a result of a fall two years ago, and Teena — who spoke as part of Carers’ Week — told how she does everything for her dad.

She said: “In some ways it’s a little like seeing the child and parent just literally reversing roles. Little parts of his brain breaking down or decaying.

“One day he’ll just take the lid off the kettle and put his hands in to see if the water is hot.

“Back in 2018 he had a fall. He suffered some vascular dementia as a result of that fall and that changed everything dramatically.


“I need to look after him 24/7. He needs constant supervision. You have to be hyper sensitive and hyper tuned in to everything they’re doing.

“And then you have all the usual household duties on top of that. You’ve cleaning a house, cooking meals and to get out of the house to go shopping.

“If I concentrated too much on what life had become I’d start getting a bit morose about it.”


Teena opened up about her story for Teva’s Life Effects campaign, in conjunction with Carers’ Week. She told how the life of a carer can be isolating, as she revealed how she’s given up many of her hobbies like mountain climbing and swimming.

She said: “I do miss going out on my mountains and long distance swims. Realistically, there comes a point where the commitment that you need, for me at least, there are so many things which I simply had to wave goodbye to.

“I would be lying if I didn’t say that I miss those things but dad’s more important.


“Sitting in the garden one day, he said to me, ‘I think I’m mad’. I didn’t know what to say to the man. The feeling of inadequacy, trying to reassure him. I sometimes get sad and sometimes get anxious.

“Even with the best will in the world, the friends who haven’t given up on me, can’t really understand what it’s like.”

She added: “I mean when Dad turns around and looks at me with his little baby blue eyes and his face lights up with childlike delight and happiness it makes everything worthwhile.”

Teena has previously spoken out about the need for more home supports for those caring for family members with dementia.

She said: “Dad loves being at home. and that’s why I’m doing this and I choose to do it. And the love that I have for him and the love that he has for me and the happiness that I see on his good days, that’s what makes it such a rewarding journey.”

FOR more information about Life Effects and tips and advice visit

Carers’ Week runs from June 8-14 and recognises and celebrates the people who care for their loved ones all across the country.

  • Communicorp
  • Danone
  • Irish Farmers’ Journal
  • Dublin Airport Authority
  • WeightWatchers, Ireland
  • Limerick City & County Enterprise Board
  • ‘Foot In The Door’ Media Trainer for Independent Commercial Radio, Ireland
  • Clare County Enterprise Board
  • Carlow County Enterprise Board
  • Great Outdoors
  • Adrian Hendroff ‘From High Places’
  • Chernobyl Children International
  • Concern Ireland
  • The Hope Foundation
  • LauraLynn Childrens’ Hospice
  • Travel Department
  • Helly Hansen Killarney Adventure Race
  • 98FM Dublin
  • Newstalk
  • TodayFM Radio
  • Learning Waves Skillnet
  • BCFE, Ballyfermot
  • Pat Falvey, 'The Summit Book'