Yesterday Nan and I went to a memory cafe ran by her doctors surgery. Getting Nan out is a big deal, she isn’t one for getting out the house because of anxiety issues and worrying she might fall. I have been broaching the subject about going out to this cafe to socialise a few times a week for the last few weeks and it went from “no no no way” to being up for the idea.
The day started with Nan ringing me and saying am i sure we should go because it was raining. First try at getting out of it, but i just told her to wait till 2pm when i was going to pick her up and we will decide then. Luckily by the time I arrived at Nans the weather had calmed down and Nan was dressed, handbag on lap all ready to go. She had some questions for me, like “What is it we are doing?” “Whos going to be there?” etc and I reassured her that it was a nice group set up by her Drs surgery for people with affected by memory loss and dementia and for their carers too. I told her the nice lady that came to her house a few weeks ago would also be there and that was it, she was practically running to my car! (The nice lady is the dementia co-ordination for surgery and tbqh I have to say that doctors surgery has been AMAZING to nan! TOP marks from me!).
Now for me, I was kind of anxious about the drive. Sounds silly when I have been driving nearly 10 months but in that time I’ve barely driven through town. I am doing it more and more now and building confidence but it was still kinda new to me, plus I hate parking so the idea of parking somewhere new…. EEEK! Then there was the idea of finding my way round somewhere new………. this was as much about me overcoming my anxiety as it was about helping nan.
We arrived about 10 minutes early and sat in the car for a few minutes so I could relax and then we made our way in. Nan got a bit stressed at first. “How much further to walk?” truth is, I had zero idea and she was telling me to ask every random person near by. The cafe was held at a garden centre so I distracted Nan by saying “Oh isn’t that a pretty plant” truth is I know nothing about plants but I have learnt that the best way to calm Nan down when she is getting stressed is distract her before long shes loving life and totally relaxed. We found our way to the cafe and the first person we saw was the lovely lady who visited Nans house and Nans eyes lit up! I wish right now I could think of her name, but she was really pleased i’d managed to get Nan out. When we were chatting at Nans house she understood that Nan is reluctant to socialise despite the fact in her younger days thats all she would do!
We had a cup of tea and cake and watched as the room filled up. It was only a small room,for probably about 20-25 people and it was full. This is only the 2nd time that cafe has been run and I heard alot of people say that it was their first time there so I can only hope that it continues to grow!
They had one of the garden centre workers come in and give a demonstration of how to make a hanging basket. Now I am not at all green fingered, couldn’t tell you a thing about gardens… but he made me want to go and learn. Quite like the idea of a bit of gardening now, not quite sure i could muster too much but I am tempted to get some pots going! They passed round a LOVELY smelling vanilla plant for everyone that Nan shouted out smelt like fish, im not quite sure thats right Nan, but it made everyone laugh. It was also the first time i’d been totally relaxed when it comes to just letting Nan say and do what she wants. We were in an environment that was safe and relaxed for people with dementia and their was other carers there who got how I felt. All in all I felt quite emotional afterwards. It felt like the first time I had accepted Nan has dementia, I am not quite sure why I hadn’t before but really it was an amazing experience and I hope we go again.
At the end they raffled off the vanilla (fish) smelling plant and the hanging basket and Nan ended up winning both. However I know she wasn’t really keen on having the hanging basket so I said we’d just take the plant and I (with Nans agreement) said raffle the basket again.
Nan carried the plant the whole way home saying it was OUR plant. So now I have something else to look after every time i go and see her! She even rang me in the evening to talk about our plant! All in all, seeing nan go out and socalise and chat and laugh with other people was amazing. Top marks to the Drs surgery, starting something like this was just what Nan and I needed and I know Nan can’t wait to go next time.
(Although this is Nan and she could change her mind 20 times before then, weather dependent!)