Living Well with Dementia (LWwD) is something that we at CASS are keenly involved in. Last year saw the launch of our new LWwD Groups across the 6 localities, where carers and their cared for can drop in, chat with people in similar situations to share their experiences and for the opportunity to speak with CASS support workers.
Those attending can also listen to talks on various ways of Living Well with Dementia. The groups are also supported by a hard-working team of volunteers.
I had the pleasure of chatting at a recent group, with Joy who is a carer and her husband Ian who has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. They both spoke with openness about their experiences and how they manage daily life and looking into the future.
Joy and Ian met in August 2009 at the Task Group, which is a Mental Health Support Group in Burton and they married a year to the day later. Ian who is 60, worked in the outdoors for
most of his life as a Fisheries Bailiff, and was into outdoor sports such as shooting
and fishing. His love of the outdoors and nature also lent itself into another love of
his, Ian is a very talented artist.
Much of Ian’s work is based around birds of prey and portraits of dogs, but he also enjoys creating detailed portrait artwork in a range of mediums including watercolours and pastels.
Ian said “art is my way of focussing… I am planning an exhibition this year at Burton Library”. Ian and Joy also added that they hope from any funds raised, to make a donation in support of Alzheimers, which is extremely generous of them.
In 2012 there were suspicions that something was not quite right with Ian’s Health, and in 2013 a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimers was given. At first they struggled to cope with the news and there were some low times. Some family and friends also wouldn’t believe that Ian was developing Alzheimers. Ian at the moment struggles with remembering things such as when making a meal, forgetting to put the meat in the oven, or at night letting their beloved Staffie dog Molly out, getting into bed and then Joy will say “Where’s Molly?”. Ian will have forgotten to let Molly back in.
Joy understands that gradually her caring role will increase from reminders to being more hands on. Ian is concerned about losing control in the future, but he keeps active, loves cooking and his artwork plays a major part in his life. Joy and Ian also now keep things as light as possible following the initial shock, and often joke about things to help keep positive.
Ian and Joy regularly attend the Burton Living Well with Dementia Group. Ian commented “It’s good for Joy…there’s plenty of information and we enjoy it when entertainment is put on”. Joy mentioned that she has also made some good friends by attending the group.
Ian is one of our younger dementia sufferers and would like to see the occasional activity geared to someone younger but understands that the majority of those who attend are older and activities will be predominantly aimed to engage with them. They also said that they’d love for the group and for the local CALL group to be fortnightly rather than monthly. Ian commented that if future services needed to be paid services, they would be happy to pay a small amount to attend.
Thank you to both Ian and Joy for sharing their experiences and for sharing the wonderful artwork. We look forward to hearing more details about the exhibition.