Going away on a family holiday with someone with dementia has its challenges, but it also has plenty of rewards, as vlogger Virginia Bailey explains in her latest video about her Dad
So I thought I’d share with you a few funny stories and a few challenging stories from our family holiday this summer. We really noticed this year a big change in Dad, comparing him to last year, and we saw more challenges with him.
[It’s] Being in a different place and maybe out of his comfort zone, somewhere he’s not particularly familiar with – it causes him quite a lot of stress and quite a lot of anxiety. And obviously the knock-on effect of that is that my Mum feels that too.
So I’ve got lots of really great memories from that holiday for the time that I was there. My Dad trying to fly a kite with my niece. And it was brilliant because Dad – their Grandy – wanted to help, but it was hilarious trying to watch him throw the kite up in the air, taking instruction from my 8-year-old niece, holding the kite, because they stood there for ages staring at each other neither of them really knowing what to do. But he kept going and he got involved and it was brilliant.
Another memory from the holiday which my sister recalled to me was when they went swimming. My Mum came out onto the poolside to find my Dad standing at the deep end of the pool. And apparently she just stopped and said to my sister, Francesca, ‘I can’t remember if he knows how to swim anymore.’ He just waved and then did a beautiful dive into the pool, swam right to the other end of the pool where the kids were, and played with them. It was almost like he was reliving his fatherhood with me and my sister, which he used to do when we were on holiday, pretend to be a shark, pull us under and all that kind of stuff. And I know my sister absolutely loved that hour in the pool – it was a really special memory.
There were some challenges on the holiday and I think my Mum summed it up by saying it’s not really a holiday for her. It’s time with her family, which is so precious, but she’s constantly worrying about Dad and about how he’s reacting to things.
What we know is that we will continue to do this family holiday for as long as we possibly can. Yes, it’s going to get tougher and yes we’ll always use it as a benchmark for how much Dad has changed. But, our time together as a family is so precious. It’s so important for him to be able to see his grandchildren and [for] his grandchildren to be able to see their Grandy and play with him. So even if it’s just the odd hour here and there that we feel like we’re just a normal family and nothing is actually wrong with Dad and he’s just the same old Dad that he used to be, then those memories are precious enough and are worth making.