Mr Motivator says he put life on hold to care for mother-in-law with dementia

Fitness fanatic and TV personality Derrick Evans – better known as Mr Motivator – has opened up for the first time on his tragic family circumstances, after his mother-in-law was diagnosed with dementia.

The exercise instructor admitted life had to be "put on hold" in order to help care for his family alongside his wife, Sandra.

He has been providing support for Sandra while she in turn supports her mum, who is living with dementia – acting as a 'secondary carer' in providing support to his wife as the primary carer.

Appearing via video link on BBC's Morning Live on Thursday, Derrick offered his advice for secondary carers like him: "I think the most important thing is you just need to be aware and look for changes in the one you love.

"And those changes may mean you need to change or put your life on hold for a while, and in putting it on hold for a while you start thinking about things that would please them," he explained.

"So you find moments that you can get away from any situation, you find time away to maybe just go and reflect, time to actually go for a walk, time to actually go and have dinner together."

He added: "So it does require a different kind of structure, and I think it requires you to care a lot more. Don't just assume that everything is okay – you're got to get up and find moments that you can spend together which are valuable moments, and that will ensure that the person who is caring for, like my wife caring for her mother, is strong at all times.

"That's critical," he emphasised.

Morning Live presenter Gethin Jones wondered: "You've been a beacon of positivity for so many people over the years – how did you cope? How did you give your wife the emotional support she needed, because you must have had dark days too, surely?"

Derrick responded: "You know, the thing is – it's really important that you always have a smile on your face. I say, if you smile at the world, the world smiles back at you.

"Every situation you have – it's only a bad moment. It's not a bad life. And that means you've got to really reason and realise that with everything, there's a timescale to it.

"We all have pandemics to deal with. The pandemic of the last 18 months is one of them, but in every family there's been an accident or the loss of a loved one – there are things to deal with."

He added: "You have got to remain positive through all of it, and if you do so – by remaining positive all the time, it becomes second nature, but if you have negative thoughts that's where you lean to, that's where you're going to all the while.

"So every day you do get up and remind yourself of all the things that make you rich – and it's all those things that money can't buy. It's the smile, the holding hands, the cups of tea together, going for a walk together.

"It's breathing and just stopping, reflecting. It's looking through the photo album of all the good times that you've had. It's those kinds of things that you need to put around you like a cocoon that acts as protection for the ones you care about."

Morning Live airs from 9:15 weekdays on BBC One.

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