Longstanding Caboolture resident Lionel Naess was diagnosed with vascular dementia two years ago. He can remember clearly the day he was told his diagnosis – it was at the Prince Charles Hospital. At the time things seemed to be all doom and gloom, says Lionel.
Two years on, and after a recent stint working with Ozcare’s dementia advisor Anita Coulson, Lionel and his wife of 60 years, Pam, are feeling a whole lot more positive about life.
“Anita was caring and understanding and most of all she had a listening ear. I was reassured that I can enjoy life and that I wasn't losing my marbles.”
Anita has worked with Lionel to tackle a couple of different issues.
Lionel had mentioned that when he goes out for a social day with his community service provider, he always seems to be at the same place – either Bunnings or the shops, just aimlessly looking around.
“Anita came up with lots of suggestions for other activities to do in that time – going to the Historical Engine Museum, WWII Museum, a drive out to Wamuran to have lunch, making things again with my hands – some of which I have been able to do.”
Lionel also now goes to respite care two days a week.
On Friday – the couple’s shopping day – Anita now has Lionel doing the shopping again with the help of a care assistant.
“Up until recently I was forgetting which aisle some items were in. Again Anita came up with a fix. She phoned the Woolies where Pam and I shop and asked for a printout of the shop layout – to mark up where the groceries are that Pam and I regularly purchase. I felt so empowered again that I could still carry out the grocery shop. I now only forget the ice-creams when I have had a really big day and I am tired!”
Lionel says at home he was really only was colouring in, and even this he was doing less and less.
“Anita introduced me to different types of colouring in, puzzles and mazes. Then we learnt how to play games on the Samsung tablet. I have successfully mastered some (for example, solitaire) and now play Candy Crush with help. My grandchildren are going to be surprised!”
“Anita challenged me to engage with putting together a small simple design jigsaw puzzle of my choice, reassuring me to start off small and easy. I felt I needed to challenge myself and so I decided to do a 1000-piece jigsaw of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. I finished it and was proud to show Anita the only thing was it was missing three pieces.”
By the time of Anita’s next visit, Lionel had found the three pieces, had gone down to Bunnings and purchased a board cut to size of the puzzle, and then glued the puzzle to the board. Now Pam and Lionel will hang in their unit to show what Lionel has achieved. He’s now gone on to complete a harder level puzzle.
Pam thinks that Lionel deliberately challenges himself with something harder before each of Anita’s visits – just to show that he is keeping his brain stimulated!
As Lionel puts it, “You have given me my life back – I feel I can live again, just knowing that I can do the shopping and jobs like I used to.”
If you or someone you know is living with dementia, learn more about the range of dementia specialist services Ozcare offers.