I adore Keswick, I adore my village….so you wouldn’t think there’d be a problem when I come home from paradise, but dementia always has other ideas. …..when I get to Keswick, I fall into Keswick routine. I immediately fall into having breakfast because that’s what I do at Keswick. However that’s also because it’s the only place I go as well. It helps enormously.
People often email me asking why their partners with dementia no longer want to go away. It’s very simple….it can be very disorientating and difficult.
Nothing is the same, the routine is different and the surrounding are different making it very discombobulating….and its my belief that’s the reason people often deteriorate quicker when moved to a care home.
However, for me, when I visit Keswick, I have the same room with the same view and everything in the same place. Even if my room is taken, as long as I have the same view, I’m ok as the rooms are very similar.
Catherine always makes sure my television is covered by a coloured pillow case and keeps me stocked up with Yorkshire tea.
So you see, I have a Keswick routine and a home routine. I think that’s why I found it so hard to go to Pooley Bridge last week, somewhere new. It felt confusing and void of emotion.
Would think the worst transition would be from home to Keswick but its actually the other way round. I imagine it’s because I’m so excited to get to Keswick th I don’t notice the slow stage of ‘getting used to it”. But when I get home, it’s so important for me to be able to perform certain tasks in a certain order. So I unpack, put the washing on, then have a cuppa tea. It’s the following morning, after a sleep, that seems to be the difficult time. I wake and have to work out where I am. Then after showering, I’m looking for my suitcase with clothes in it, only to then realise I don’t live out of a suitcase anymore.🙄 it’s little things like that, I find confusing.
The quicker, I go for my village walk and take photographs, the more I feel at home and back to ‘home routine’.
So you see, the next time you think of taking someone with dementia away for a holiday or short break, we may not have the same excitement as you do. We may be filled with horror at the thought of leaving behind what we know, where we feel safe. Also, if we’re gone for more than a few days, we may just be getting into a new routine, when we’re suddenly heading back home, then home may be confusing too.
We’re not being awkward or selfish, we just have dementia in our brains muddling everything up…..neither is it a case of we ‘can’t go away’. Think of the small things that may help. We simply need a routine established quickly, with something very similar to what we already know and think carefully about the place you want to go. Does it have memories you can relive? Does it have an emotional connection? I used to love going to new places, but I would find it difficult now, not impossible but certainly not on my own…..