Living well with dementia: John's storyPosted on: 28/09/2021
Progress Lifeline service user John tells us his story of living with dementia, and how our home technology and remote monitoring helps him and his family.
John is in his 60s and lives with his wife, Kath, in Lancashire. The couple have two grown-up sons who live close by with families of their own; John and Kath regularly babysit their grandchildren.
John has been extremely active all his life, in particular, he was an avid horse-rider, and rode almost every evening. However, his health took a turn for the worse two years ago when he was diagnosed with vascular dementia.
A series of minor strokes, and other symptoms caused by vascular dementia, led John to start falling unexpectedly and he also began to experience hallucinations. Then came the times when he would leave the car engine running or forget to switch off the gas hob, creating potentially dangerous situations for himself and his family.
Mr and Mrs Holt have found it very stressful living with the “unknown”, as vascular dementia symptoms can change and vary in severity very quickly. They found support however from the Alzheimer’s Society North West’s local dementia cafés which helped the couple understand more about the disease and meet other couples in similar situations.
Alzheimer’s Society North West recommended Mr and Mrs Holt look into remote home monitoring, personal pendant alarms and telecare equipment to support Mr and Mrs Holt in their home.
Technology enabled care - one part of a person-centred care package helping to manage the symptoms of dementia
Today, with help from new medication, home aids and adaptations from Lancashire County Council, support from the Alzheimer’s Society North West, and the installation of wireless telecare equipment from Progress Lifeline, John is now living safely and confidently at home.
About the Progress Lifeline service, John says, "We had the telecare equipment installed in 2018 and so far it’s been great. The installer from Progress Lifeline was smashing, really informative, and he thoroughly tested the equipment and explained how it all works. I wear a fall detector around my wrist, just like a watch; and the smoke, heat and carbon monoxide sensors are connected to Progress Lifeline, so if I fall, or accidentally leave an appliance turned on, an alert is sent directly to their team who send help if I need it.
"I’ve had a few falls since I’ve had the Progress Lifeline service and the swift response from the operators has given us a lot of confidence that if I fall when I’m on my own at home, I’ll get help quickly. The Lifeline equipment gives you that feeling of freedom again. I’m not as worried about being left on my own."
Finding new interests, feeling valued, and getting involved with the local community
No longer able to continue with his previous physical activities such as going to the gym and horse-riding, John has found himself seeking out - and enjoying - new challenges and hobbies, such as joining local community choir ‘Skylarks’, and the Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Singing for the Brain’ group, where John often sings solos – something he never would have considered doing before!
John regularly attends his local Dementia Café in Penwortham where he helps support other people living with or caring for someone with dementia.
He has also been a valued member of his local Dementia Panel, helping to shape and guide dementia services across the district and making recommendations to improve facilities and services for families affected by dementia.
Remote monitoring and home technology - providing support for family and carers affected by dementia
The telecare equipment installed by Progress Lifeline has contributed to supporting John to enjoy his time at home with his family and reduced the couples' anxiety about John being in the house on his own. John's wife Kath adds, "I feel much more at ease now we have the telecare equipment. The home sensors allow John to maintain his independence by staying at home on his own when I go out and make me feel reassured. The rest of the family are also really pleased that we’ve now got this telecare service."
John admits that living with vascular dementia means that there are good days and bad days. But since his diagnosis, he has thrown himself into living his life positively and independently, "I want to stay at home for as long as possible, being able to play with my grandchildren. They do worry and want to look after me. To help keep my mind and body active, they’ve bought me a memory ball that we throw and catch to each other and they play quizzes with me on the Amazon Echo."