'It has brought back the man I married'
Don and Jenny, Wimpole Estate
Wimpole Home Farm offers retired local farmers a chance to spend time in a setting they love. For Don, an ex-farmer living with dementia, it’s a way of reconnecting with his past. After a few hours on the farm, he feels like he has done a proper day’s work. And Jenny, his wife, gets to welcome home the man she married.
It can be quite lonely
Jenny: 'I think he still thinks it might get better, I don’t think he could see the pattern to start with. He just said to me a couple of nights ago: "Is this forever?" And I said "Well, I think so, yeah."
I asked Don to take me to the Young Conservatives Barbecue. Here we are, fifty years later!
Like most farmers, Don was always the practical problem solver, could turn his hand to anything. Then suddenly, he couldn't. He's got Lewy Body Dementia. He sleeps a lot. It can be quite lonely, really.
There's not a road map, you don’t know where you’re going or how long for. Farmers aren’t very good at developing hobbies because they’re so busy. They do miss the farming. Don't you?'
Don: 'Yes, very much so. But I knew when I eventually retired it would be like cutting my hands off. You can’t do what you had spent all your life doing.'
Keeping the wheels turning
Jenny: 'This is the reality. If you’re not proactive you soon lose the ability to be active. With the Farming Memories Group, people with farming backgrounds can get together and share some farming activities and just enjoy each other’s company.'
" It gets him talking and energised and he gets a glint in his eye. That’s more like the man I married. That’s what I miss. "
Jenny: 'He comes back from the farm and he feels like he’s done a day’s work, like life used to be.'
Don: 'There’s an awful lot of space to fill up, it helps to keep the wheels turning. Life goes on. You don’t get what you want when you want it, you get what you’re dealt.'
Jenny: 'When somebody's got dementia you spend a lot of time feeling sad about what you’ve lost, but it’s not just about your long term memories, it’s about being in the moment.'