John and Thelma’s Story

My father John received a diagnosis of Mixed Dementia in 2019, and I’ve been striving to provide him with the best support possible, with assistance from ADSS, Imago, Age UK and Sheila Mays.

Residing in Greenhithe with his wife Rosslyn, Dad celebrated their remarkable 70th wedding anniversary in 2022. Together, they have three children – two girls, one boy-three grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren.

Dad, formerly an accountant, is a family-oriented man who thrives on keeping active. In his younger days, he was an avid cyclist and enjoyed long walks, as well as crafting and fixing things in his shed. Despite his current communication challenges, he remains a sociable and helpful individual.

Attending the Peer Support wellbeing group at Safeharbour twice a month brings a smile to Dad’s face, even if he can’t recall the details afterward. Mum and I join him for a monthly craft activity and participate in Singing Back the Memories twice a month. Our crafting endeavours have grown so much that my brother humorously claims we’re running out of space for all the creations.

Throughout the year, we’ve enjoyed events like the King’s Coronation party and a delightful day out at Herne Bay, thoughtfully organised by ADSS.

My connection with ADSS goes back to when the Parish Council in West Kingsdown, which is where I live, a few years ago aimed to make the village dementia friendly. Attending an event led me to become a Dementia Friend and participate in the Carers Learning Programme which used to be led by Ross. The experience equipped me with valuable insights and resources, which I later shared with my family to enhance my mother-in law’s quality of life. ADSS has been a constant support over the years, providing helpful phone calls and a 24-hour support line. When my mother-in-law transitioned to a care home, the knowledge gained from the course provided invaluable in making informed decisions and offering the best care.

As Dad faced the challenges of dementia and had to stop driving, the three of us used to go out every week. However, with his increasing difficulty in noisy and busy places, we found solace in attending the day trips.

Dad’s participation in the peer support group and our crafting sessions became vital for maintaining his well-being. Even as Mum faced mobility issues and needed a wheelchair, these activities allowed us to continue enjoying time together.

The suggestion to join the singing group turned out to be a surprising joy for all of us. The warm welcome, diverse song choices, and the supportive community made it a special experience. Singing has become a delightful distraction for Dad, even during seemingly mundane activities like nail cutting.

ADSS’ involvement extended beyond group activities. When Mum was in the hospital, the Hospital Dementia Coordinators provided invaluable assistance, ensuring a smoother transition back home and offering support throughout the recovery process.

In a post-COVID world, where challenges abound, ADSS consistently goes above and beyond expectations. The reliability of scheduled activities and proactive communication have been a tremendous help, ensuring that we can focus on creating cherished memories and spending quality time together.

I would like to thank ADSS and the families we’ve met at the wellbeing groups. Your support, friendship, and willingness to go the extra mile have made it possible for us to navigate this journey with a sense of community and shared understanding.

By Thelma

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