Maria knows that keeping her husband’s mind and body active will help them both cope better with the effects of his dementia. Life will never be the same, but they appreciate how precious that life is. Hospice charity ellenor helps them grasp every opportunity and enjoy every minute.
The couple, who live in Northfleet, have been coming to the hospice to attend the therapeutic groups which has enabled John to live better and reach the goals that are important to him. This has allowed him and Maria to live the best life they can with John living with dementia.
Maria said: “We would feel quite depressed if we couldn’t join in any groups and mix with other people and exchange conversations. John attends the music group and gardening on Wednesdays, and chair exercises and arts and crafts on Thursdays. Coming to these things makes us feel so much better.
On the other days of the week John and Maria also attend activities offered by the Dementia Society.
Maria said: “We go out somewhere every single day of the week, even on Sundays – when we go for a walk along the promenade in Gravesend. If it rains, we just drive to Bluewater, walk along the mall, and go for a coffee.”
John was a teacher and, at the age of 32, became Kent’s youngest ever deputy head at a Wilmington school. He taught children from the ages of eleven to 18 and his specialist subject was chemistry. He also did an Open University Batchelor of Education degree at the age of 50, has adapted a chemistry book and written four books about Christianity.
His academic background meant it was a real blow when he then had to retire early due to health problems including throat cancer. He was officially diagnosed with
Alzheimer’s Disease in 2018, a few years after his symptoms became noticeable and after also suffering a stroke.
Maria said: “After the stroke it felt like a miracle to see him walk a few steps, but with physio and respite, he really improved.”
John notices that when he has been doing something he enjoys, one of ellenor’s activities like singing or gardening, he can form whole sentences.
He said: “That is something that’s normally quite difficult for me now. It’s so frustrating because I was made a deputy head so young at a large school with 1,200 pupils – I miss that life terribly.”