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Dementia Awareness Week 2016 - Day Five

On the final day of dementia awareness week it brings me great pleasure to share Victoria’s story with you. Victoria wrote to me after being inspired by Hazels’ story on Monday, which encouraged her to share her own success with us all. Victoria says that this week has come just at the right time for her, as she feels like she has made a massive breakthrough! Victoria’s story is below:

“My client has Alzheimer’s and has limited verbal capability. One of the things on his care plan is to keep him awake and entertained during the day. I have spent a lot of time trying to get him to play dominoes, play cards, do jigsaw puzzles, even building things out of lego. None of these tasks seemed to hold any interest for him, or they were beyond his capabilities. I was struggling. His daughter came up with a memory box. It had a variety of things in it from around the house. He did look through it from time to time. It would hold his attention for a short time only.

Last week I found a webinar about entertaining people with dementia. They said that much of the problem is that we are asking the client to learn a new skill. They struggle with the basics and cope better with familiar things. They said that if your client was a builder then maybe giving them a block of wood and some sand paper – maybe this would be more enjoyable for them. A tailor would perhaps be happy to sew buttons on to a piece of fabric.

This got me thinking. My client was a business man. We found him a box file and put in some old letters, envelopes, business cards, paper clips, plain paper and pens. I am lucky enough that my client has some of his old employees come to visit and they had told me that they used to call him by his initials.

I gave my client his working life back! He now spends most of the day looking through his business cards. I call him by his initials when I make him a drink (when I just used his name he was ignoring his drinks and they were going cold). I spend much of my day picking the business cards up off the floor, but he is happy and entertained. His wife is pleased that he is no longer messing up her paper work. I am thrilled that I have finally found the thing that he wants to do. When I take him up to get ready for bed, I talk to him about how busy he was at work today. He seems quite proud that he is useful again.

I would love you to pass this story on to everyone. Who knows their clients may be keen to get back to work too!

Zoe Elkins, Head of Care, The Good Care Group