One of our learners, Susan is a full-time carer for her husband who has Dementia. She has kindly shared with us her experience of the Recovery & Wellbeing College and how the courses have helped both her – and her husband, Stan.
In 2020, just before lockdown my husband, Stan, was diagnosed with Dementia and I became his full-time carer. My own future plans were put on hold and thoughts of putting my newly gained History Degree to use were swept aside.
For the last 3 years we have both felt very isolated; lockdown contributed to Stan’s decline and also to my own stress and anxiety. We have no family nearby and most friends have lost touch. We have spent our time sat within the same four walls day after day. I researched online what was available locally for us to do, both together and individually, and I came across the Recovery & Wellbeing College. I spotted the Go Fish Beginners course; Stan had done a little bit of fishing years ago and I thought it might trigger some happy memories for him, so I booked us on and it has been a revelation!
Each session is 3 hours and I worried that Stan wouldn’t be able to concentrate for so long, as is always the case with other things but he’s been happy to sit there for the full duration, so much so that I have to practically drag him away! The tutors, Mark and DJ have been brilliant with him, and he finds the activity calming and although I go purely to support him, I find it relaxing too.
The fact that Stan can engage in an activity in this way and for so long is surprising and beneficial enough but even more so is the impact it has had on his ability to recall. Typically, he can’t remember anything we have done throughout the week, but he talks about fishing all the time. He is always telling other people how much he enjoys it, how big the fish were and how many he has caught, which he always exaggerates, and the amount gets bigger with each passing day!
We have also done the Online Mindful Mandalas course, and although I had to completely adapt what Stan was able to do, I was again surprised at how he happily sat by my side for one and a half hours and took part. I’ve also tried Kayaking, which I was very apprehensive about for different reasons but once on the water I couldn’t think about anything else and had 2 wonderful hours of complete distraction. I’ve booked on the Self-Care for Carers course in the Autumn and Stan is going to continue fishing. I am just so pleased to have discovered the College – it has made such a difference to both our lives.
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