Following on from Linda’s blog about the first day of their recent “Time to Relax” leisure break, I’m delighted to share the second half of Linda’s story with you.
So Linda, it’s over to you to take us through day two..
Linda Barnes – Wife to Carer
I’m getting some breakfast juice. I return to the table to find Ken trying to eat the cornflakes I’d left in front of him with a knife and fork.
No one else around the table bats an eyelid. There is no embarrassment. It is simply a demonstration of where Ken is in his dementia journey. I gently swap the cutlery for a spoon, and am given a smile by a fellow carer, no words are needed.
Ken woke this morning in a four poster bed of giant proportions. In fact the room and everything in it makes me feel small. It’s impressive and fabulous but not perhaps dementia friendly, it is designed for a far grander purpose.
There’s a huge gilt freestanding mirror. Perfect for a bride to admire her trousseau, but to Ken it has a menacing edge. He catches a glimpse and thinks there is some else in the room. I demonstrate my comedic skills and dance in front of the reflection, a reassurance there is no one but us.
The bath is an incredible feature, the stuff of posh magazines and footballer’s houses. I joke even if we could get in, we’d never get out. But it is the shower screen that is our biggest obstacle, a plain sheet of glass, very discreet and modern, but Ken can’t judge where it is and is frightened by it.
Dementia brains are different, spatial awareness can be compromised. What is obvious to us isn’t to Ken. It is the only negative I can suggest in our whole two days. I think perhaps the bridal suite would be better suited to a higher functioning couple than we are.
It’s raining, so plan B is put into operation. The boys go tenpin bowling. I’ve a little apprehension re the bowling shoes, but Covid measures mean changing footwear isn’t required. The boys have a fantastic morning.
Meanwhile we ladies take on the tasks of self care and preservation. We have a ‘wellness session’ which reveals deeply hidden emotion. I have a neck and shoulder massage. It is a mixture of pleasure and pain, as my lovely therapist tries to undo the knots in my muscles. I feel inches taller when it’s over.
We paint pictures with non dominant hands and are encouraged to make mess, it’s all about finding the child within us.
More food, delicious soup and sandwiches. Then more cake.
Our afternoon session is a lesson in meditation, all about the breath, all too soon it’s time to go.
The lads are having a sports quiz, prizes are awarded for the bowling, everyone is smiling, that positive buzz hasn’t faded.
A closure speech.
There’s thank you’s all round.
I don’t think the organisers can truly appreciate what they have given their guests.
We have felt nurtured, respected, understood.
Everyone has benefited from the experience and will hopefully carry its effect with them when returning to the everyday.
A social entrepreneurial experiment that has been a massive success. We have shown people living with dementia can still have a fantastic time if the venue and people are sensitive to needs.
It reflects on society as a whole, if more people understand dementia then we are all the richer. The support staff undoubtedly had as good time as we did. It just takes understanding, and a bit of a gamble, I’m so glad they took a chance on us .
For the first time for a very long time we felt like any ‘normal’ couple.
I wish the project every success, and hope it will go from strength to strength so that more couples get the chance to experience the positivity
An opportunity to make a difference?
This certainly was.
Thank you so much.
Wow, what can I say. Linda’s insight, as well as the feedback from her fellow wives and carers is priceless to me. Without it, how on earth could we design services that create opportunities to be “normal”.
Here’s the link to Linda’s blog page