Paul and Maureen have been married for 17 years and together for 22. Both keen ballroom dancers, their lives changed dramatically after Maureen had a stroke and developed mixed dementia in February 2013. Today Paul, who is Maureen’s Care Partner, offers his tips for living positively with dementia day to day. Paul shares his experiences as a Care Partner on his personal blog ‘Memory Issues: Our journey with mixed dementia’ you can read more here
One of my regrets in life is not serving an apprenticeship. I often look on in envy as I see someone exhibiting skills they gained whilst serving their time. At best I am a ‘Have a Go Joe’ and the job gets done one way or another.
I would contend that I have served something of an apprenticeship with dementia. This has been an experiential learning experience as I have stood back and watched family members dealing with the condition over the last 40 years. Twenty months ago dementia became the unwanted guest in our own lives when Maureen received her diagnosis.
I have made many mistakes during this long apprenticeship; when I have simply got it wrong. In no way do I claim to be an expert in the field. What follows are five simple things that are helpful to us on our journey with dementia.
There are three main sources of support that I draw upon to help me try to react appropriately to Maureen as dementia changes her personality, and behaviour.
It is really helpful to keep some sort of record on how things are going, and how you are feeling. I have only started blogging recently, and it has opened so many doors to put me in touch with further experienced hands in the field of dementia.
Maureen’s dementia followed a stroke, regular exercise has been recommended by professionals as a preventative measure. Therefore, we take lots of walks in the local area. Maureen has also designed a little circuit in the garden and often pops out to keep active and healthy.
Sensible eating is recommended for us all, and takes on greater significance following stroke and dementia. We have included things like coconut oil and almonds in our diet. Some describe these as ‘Snake Oil’ treatments for dementia, meaning that they have no medicinal value and can be seen as a waste of time. However, try roasting potatoes and parsnips in coconut oil and taste the difference. Maintaining a healthy diet and ensuring eating is enjoyable is such an important aspect of living well with dementia.
We sing and dance on most days, to all sorts of numbers. Our dancing is rusty, and our voices may be faltering, but we have fun with music.There is lots of evidence that music stimulates the brain, listening to music and singing is an in enjoyable and social activity that people with dementia can take part in.
As my apprenticeship progresses I continue to seek advice from those who are more experienced in the field than I am. If their suggestions seem viable I try them out: if they work I stick with them. I can always refer to my memory shortcomings when I have not followed the guidance of those who think they have all the answers!
The Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline is for anyone with a question or concern about dementia.
With your support, we can be there for families facing dementia. Your donation will mean that we can provide much-needed advice and support to families and carers, particularly through our Dementia Helpline.