Tony and Marion’s Story
Tony and Marion’s Dementia Adventure Holiday to Lake Derwentwater in May 2022 did them so much good that they jumped at the chance to fill a last-minute space on another holiday before the year was out, and joined us for a third in Fife this year.
Since Tony was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017, his wife Marion has been caring for him. Alzheimer’s Disease is caused by the build-up of the proteins amyloid and tau in the brain. It affects memory and judgement, and in later stages can affect areas of the brain that control language and sensory processing.
“Tony NEEDS to be outside all the time, which can be very difficult to cope with,” explains Marion. “We weren’t able to go on holiday, as Tony is a bit of an escape artist and is very uncomfortable in hotels.”
Marion discovered Dementia Adventure during lockdown when she found information about us on the Alzheimer’s Society website. After consulting with her family and receiving enthusiastic encouragement, she booked onto a holiday to Lake Derwentwater — the most active of our holidays, for people who love being by the water.
“I was not sure what I was letting myself in for, especially when canoeing was mentioned,” Marion confessed. “But after not visiting the lakes for almost 60 years I really wanted to go back. Tony had never been to the lakes, and said he would give it a go.”
The trip was a roaring success. Being surrounded by a support team not only meant that Tony could enjoy activities that he wouldn’t have safely been able to do alone, it meant that Marion could take her carer’s hat off for a few days and really savour the feeling of having a break.
“Once settled in and feeling that we had known Adventure Leader Fraser and Volunteer Linda for years, I was extremely at ease and enjoyed not having to keep an eye on Tony every minute of the day. It certainly allowed me to relax, and Tony was happy because he was outdoors and being guided along all day. He is always happy whilst being active all the time.”
Tony’s animated response to spending time in the outdoors was really in keeping with what our research shows — that connecting to nature and the outside world is incredibly beneficial to people living with dementia. Importantly, it also helped Marion to see how much was still possible.
“The canoeing turned out to be a highlight for both of us! I was very uncertain initially about taking part and had not told the family about this activity in case I bottled out. However, I was soon reassured and so pleased with myself for going ahead.”
Some months after the holiday, Marion found herself wishing for the chance to return to that state of relaxation.
“Tony started needing more attention and I was so tired. An email arrived saying there were vacancies at a discount price on the North Yorkshire holiday the first week in September and I booked this without any hesitation.”
“Some people may think we have been greedy, but as life changes and we don’t know how long we are going to be able to do things together, my philosophy is to enjoy our time with each other. These supported holidays allow this to happen.”