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Woman "wastes away" at home after carer husband dies suddenly, double inquest told
An elderly woman is believed to have “wasted away” after her husband died and there was no one left to look after her.
The bodies of Arthur and Patricia Private, 86 and 83, were found at their home in mid-December last year, an inquest was told yesterday.
It is believed Mr Private – who was his wife’s sole carer – died in late November.
His wife, who suffered from dementia, is thought to have been unable to get herself food and water and subsequently also died.
The Eastbourne inquest was told the couple’s bodies were found after neighbours became concerned for their welfare.
The latest newspaper in the couple’s home in St John’s Drive, Westham, near Eastbourne, was found was dated November 20 and a loaf of bread had a best before date of November 17. The central heating was on and there were letters piled up.
Because of the state of their bodies the pair’s cause of death could not be established.
Speaking at the inquest, the couple’s niece Paula Winnings, said the childless couple had "bubbly personalities" and enjoyed going to tea dances.
She explained her uncle had a triple heart by-pass and had been diagnosed with asbestosis in the 1990s.
Ms Winnings said: "They kept themselves to themselves and didn't visit any neighbours.
"I felt that they isolated themselves in Westham and couldn't walk to the local shop because it was too far away for them."
Ms Winnings said she rang Mr Private regularly and he told her he was coping but that life was stressful.
She asked him to make a promise that he would seek help for the caring of his wife in the New Year but he died before he could honour it.
Ms Winnings said: "It was such a shock when the police called me to tell me of their deaths.
"I presume uncle suffered a heart attack because of the stress and auntie was unable to get food or water. It's all very sad."
The inquest was told that social care assistance was offered to the couple in 2011 but was refused.
Mrs Private was said to have been "very thin and her thigh muscles seemed to have wasted away".
The couple's GP, Dr Ramin Tasharrofi, said that in November Mr Private had called the surgery saying he believed he was suffering from a stroke.
He was told to dial 999 straight away but no record of any contact could be found, the inquest heard.
East Sussex coroner Alan Craze said: "There were obviously problems but neither of them, it would seem, wanted to bother doctors or access help that might be needed from the doctors' surgery, which is very sad."
He recorded a verdict of death from natural causes for Mr Private and an open verdict on his wife.
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