A TRAGIC pensioner who couldn’t cope with his wife’s dementia any more took his own life, an inquest heard.

Retired civil servant Robert Bates bought a house in Bournemouth last November to be nearer his sons. But the stress of moving from Macclesfield and caring for his wife Margaret took its toll.

Mr Bates’s son Michael recalled how his father had enjoyed his retirement until Margaret was diagnosed with dementia, adding that he had struggled with being a carer and became depressed.

“He was very keen to return to Bournemouth. But he looked tired and was still struggling with his wife’s care. He couldn’t lift her and had to call paramedics to help move Margaret.”

Mr Bates junior said he had received daily emails from his father, who later described himself as ‘being on the edge’, adding: “He couldn’t cope with Margaret which was a real task that got him down completely.

“When I returned from holiday he took an overdose; Margaret was in care and dad was discharged from hospital on February 18. He came to stay with me and my wife. He said he’d be better off dead but I didn’t take this as a suicide threat.”

The Bournemouth Coroner’s Court heard how 73-year-old Mr Bates had gone to bed on February 24. The next morning his son discovered he was missing. Fighting back tears, Mr Bates junior recalled how he had found his father floating face down in the nearby River Stour.

A postmortem revealed that the former VAT inspector had died from drowning and Coroner Sheriff Payne recorded a verdict that he had taken his own life.

More support needed

DORSET has one of the lowest dementia diagnosis rates in the country with fewer than a third of sufferers getting the help and support they need.

There are thought to be 8,452 people in the county with the condition but only 2,697 have been diagnosed.

Nationally, numbers are expected to increase to more than a million over the next decade and a report from the College of Nursing and University of Southampton has called for greater support, funding and training for specialist dementia nurses.

Professor Andrea Innes, director of Bournemouth University’s dementia institute, said: “If we train and educate staff better, we’re going to get fewer crisis situations.”