Published on Thu, 25 Jun 2020 09:33

A few weeks ago (22nd May, to be precise), Wendy asked if anyone would be interested in writing a letter to a resident at Ruddington Manor Care Centre. This 'invitation' came at an opportune time for me.

I'm looking to retire next February (2021), and have recently been thinking about how I can fill my time. I want to continue playing squash (although my will-power in terms of eating, during lockdown, isn't what it needs to be !). I've learnt to play Bridge, which I intend to do more of come next February (and is the only interest Sue and I actually have in common !). But I need to do more, and especially things that aren't, perhaps, quite so 'selfish'.

So, I came up with two things. The first is dog walking. That's something I can do which will help out any owners who can't get about much. I like dogs. We have a cat. Sue's cat. The cat and I just tolerate each other. Walking other people's dogs gets round me actually owning one. Although one day.....

The second thing I've decided to do is be a 'visitor' to residents at Ruddington Manor Care Centre (and possibly also Wilford View Care Home).

My dad was in a care home (Kenyon Lodge, Mansfield Road) for a couple of years. He died in February 2019, aged 94. He had dementia. Whilst I was an only child, and very close to my parents, I actually knew very little about them. But when dad's dementia started advancing, I learnt a heck of a lot about him ! Whilst he hadn't a clue what was happening in the 'current' time or, indeed, anything after around 1950, he could describe in fine detail certain events before then (from his childhood right up until, and immediately after, the 2nd WW). Dad was in the Navy, and spent most of WW2 learning to fly (in America). He actually achieved his pilot qualifications a week before the war finished ! That's by the by. He related all sorts of stories about his time in America. I wasn't sure whether or not to believe him. Until he told me about the day he saw a plane crash into the Empire State Building in New York. I thought he was just confused with what happened re 9/11. So I googled it. He was right. A plane did crash into the Empire State Building in July 1945. I knew then that what he was telling me were true accounts of things that had happened in his life. Stuff I had no idea about. I learned so much about him, which I don't think I would have done, had he not had dementia. 

There was a lot of repetition. He'd tell me the same story over and over again, each time I visited. But I didn't mind. I could see he got pleasure from telling me, and that's what really mattered. I thought if all I've got to do is be patient, listen, and let him talk, then surely I can manage that !

Anyway, whilst visiting dad, I quite enjoyed talking to other residents. I found that if I could 'tap in' to something they could talk to me about (usually from many years ago !), then it would be an enjoyable experience for them just to talk.

So, the above is what lead me to think that perhaps I could visit people with dementia when I retire, and why the request from Wendy was so timely.

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