The World Cruise

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Mary’s dream was to travel by cruise ship to exotic places. She had long dreamed about sitting under a palm tree in the Caribbean, to see the city of Petra in Jordan and visit the old town of Dubrovnik.

 

Now in her late 60's Mary had recently been diagnosed with dementia with Lewy Bodies and was concerned this would her trip may never be possible. Mary was still reeling from the diagnosis, unsure of what the future might hold. She had held back from telling anyone but close family and had withdrawn from many of her social circles finding the interactions more challenging. As a caring family person and lover of life she was at a crossroads. She had heard about dementia and googled it to help her understand more, but now was somewhat confused by all the information. She was unsure of where to turn. Her husband, Frank had been understanding, but he was also clearly at a loss and appeared to be putting on a brave face.

 

Could they still travel, how long would she be able to remain in her home, what if Frank could not cope? These were all thoughts reeling through Mary's mind; Fear, guilt, anger...her emotions were all over the place. She seemed too young for dementia and was frantically trying to understand what sort of help was out there.

 

This is when EnlivenPlus got involved. The EnlivenPlus Specialist Care Manager met with Mary and Frank and got to understand them, their goals, aspirations and fears. A support plan was written up in partnership. Frank wanted better understanding of how to best help Mary. He also wanted to feel he could continue working and that Mary now retired could do the things she loved. Mary opened up on her love of travel and wanting to be sure she could do this safely with Frank. She had dreamed of a cruise for the last few years prior to retirement. With Frank retiring in 6 months, she desperately wanted this to be something they shared together. Mary also talked of the stress on her children and grandkids overseas. They led full on lives bringing the kids up in the UK and were understandably concerned about mum after her diagnosis. They had debated whether to come home, but Mary would hear none of it. Mary relied on phone calls, but with the grandies still young missed them terribly.

 

Ruth as Specialist Care Manager discussed a Support Plan with Mary and Frank to help answer their questions and help them achieve their goals. This included consistent support with Ruth as the central contact and Di as the Living Well Support person.

 

Support for the care partner

As part of the EnlivenPlus subscription plan, Ruth would initially spend time with Frank helping him better understand dementia, including how it may present and many of its myths and stigmas. He was able to understand what the journey might look like, noting everyone is different. She provided a listening ear to Frank, who was able to open up on some of his concerns and challenges and provided him with strategies to help both himself and Mary.

Connecting the family / whānau

Ruth supported Mary in conversations with the family. They needed reassurance, but also an agreement on how they could best support Mary from afar. Difficult conversations were had around what the future could hold and what this might look like. By having the whole family singing from the same song sheet, the right balance of wrap around support was available for Mary. A Kitcal was provided to Mary as a simple to use electronic device. This created a means of keeping in touch with family and friends. She could now get photos of all the exciting things her grandies were doing which gave them something in common to chat about when they video called her. She was even able to see her 3 year old blow out the candles on his birthday cake and say happy birthday. She felt part of their life, whilst knowing she was being thought of when her daughter sent through the occasional thoughtful text.

Meaningful activities and new experiences

Mary had been at a loss for where to turn for help. Ruth was able to help her navigate the seemingly complex dementia ecosystem. This included a visit to the GP where the right questions were asked and an agreed plan was made going forwards. Not only was Ruth able to help Mary navigate the social care system, she was able to advocate on her behalf so that Mary could get some basic assistive technologies for her home.

 

The importance of delaying cognitive decline was discussed with Mary and particularly the importance of new learnings that stretched the brain. They discussed how social interaction helped, doing stimulating activities and how physical activities were crucial. Ruth also noticed Mary struggled somewhat with her hearing and suggested she visit the audiologist, noting that hearing decline can adversely affect dementia.

 

In talking with the GP, all agreed to support Mary in her goal of going cruising. Mary went all in, learning all about the places they could visit, researching destinations and possible trips. Gradually she moved from only thinking about dementia to excitement about her and Franks trip. She so looked forward to seeing her latest grandchild Jessie for the first time. Jessie had been born 6 months ago and thus far Mary had only seen her photos.

 

Mary even joined a class on French. The family had all agreed to spend 2 weeks in a beautiful villa in the Dordogne. The dream of waking up in the morning, walking to the village cafe and buying fresh fruit and warm baguettes was becoming a reality. This all incentivised Mary to get fit and remain active so that she could make the most of her trip. Each day now started with a walk around the Mount.

 

Mary and Di would work together each week on her 'This is Me' folder. Mary was keen to learn more about her family tree. Together they researched back to where her great grandparents had made the trip to New Zealand. They were able to get records of the original boat over and were able to find parish records of burial grounds for her extended family who were originally from the North of England. As part of her trip she planned to meet with distant cousins who continued to live in the Yorkshire Dales.

 

Without realising it, Mary had purpose back in her life and felt she was again living in the moment, 'living with' but not 'suffering from' dementia . Mary and Frank felt empowered reducing anxiety and stress. Mary had even opened up on dementia to her friends. She could sense their uncertainty and had invited Ruth to talk with them about creating a dementia friendly environment. This meant that Mary was able to return to lawn bowls comfortable in the knowledge she could be herself and not feel judged. No longer did Mary see herself as 'Mary with dementia', but Mary acknowledging dementia whilst still living her best life.

* The above is a made up story based on a range of true stories to illustrate how the new EnlivenPlus service can work. Everyone’s story is different and that’s what makes EnlivenPlus unique. It is about tailoring a programme to you and your goals and aspirations. All our staff are highly trained, experienced and have a heart for people living with dementia. They are your support helping make the journey through dementia one where you get to live your best lives.

 

We are driven to see changes to a person centred culture of care in New Zealand that engages, enables and empowers you to live purposeful, fulfilling and connected lives.