If you asked me for a list of my least favourite places to spend some free time, I suspect a garden centre would feature prominently, just behind a DIY superstore. I’ve never had green fingers, not even of the palest variety, and my time spent working in the garden has largely been confined to cutting the lawn.
Yet, today, a visit to a garden centre brought a big smile to my face. I called in on Mum at the care home to be told she was out to lunch, no double meaning intended. Mum and several others had been taken by “she’s the boss” (STB) and three of her team to a local establishment which offers not only plants and gardening tools for sale, but pets, gifts and Christmas cards, amongst many, many other things. (I’d been there many times with Mum although she showed no sign of recognising where she was today).
As I really wanted to see Mum, I decided to join the intrepid team. I bumped into them perusing the plant collection. Each of the five residents was to take a plant or flower home. All that remained was to decide which colour, a challenge completed in a speedy fashion. Remembering how much Mum had loved pottering in her garden, I asked about some of the plants. She had no idea of any of the names but seemed very much “at home” in the surroundings. In fact, all five of the residents appeared to be enjoying themselves and it struck me again how important stimulation is for those living with dementia. It’s hard to keep going when offered little or nothing in return, but keep going we must. I’ve no way of knowing whether Mum will remember much of this morning’s adventure but I do know that she enjoyed it.
We stopped for a cup of tea and a snack after admiring the tropical fish. I confused the staff serving in the restaurant by trying to buy a packet of biscuits from another part of the establishment. Despite a warning that the till might not accept my purchase, it did although I was then told that we couldn’t eat said biscuits inside the store. I told STB: “Huh, there are no such things as rules.”
We duly opened the biscuits in an act of thrilling rebellion and no-one dared stop us. I pondered on those words as I drove away from the garden centre after embarrassingly failing to load Mum and her wheelchair into the taxi in one movement.
There are no rules when it comes to dementia. We all learn as we go along and if it works for the person living with the condition, that’s good enough.
I marvelled again at the patience and the great humour of those who look after Mum and her friends. At a time when the term “care” is not always cast in the most positive of lights, STB and her team really do make a difference. Mum and her four fellow residents, who all seemed to have the same name but maybe I wasn’t paying attention, set off home in a taxi, tired but refreshed.
Next week, there’s the prospect of a morning out culminating in fish and chips by the river. I’ll just make a note in my diary……