Charitable cooperative MindforYou work to open the world of leisure and holidays for families affected by dementia.

Over their two-part blog series, they’ll be explaining some of the challenges that families living with dementia can face when trying to go away and sharing their tips to help you get it right.

EVERYONE deserves a holiday after lockdown

Sick of those four walls? Aren’t we all? Whether you’ve been home schooling, working from home, on furlough or retirement, we’ve all been forced to stay at home. Dreaming of getting a break from the house is not just a pleasant notion for many of us, but instead a desperate need.  A holiday allows us to switch off from the day-to-day routines, create new memories and take stock of the things that matter.  Many of us experience joy from spending time connecting with our friends and family, savouring good food and feeling free of the daily pressures or mundane schedules. But for many families affected by dementia, holidays are no longer a possibility, even before lockdown measures were introduced…

Families at breaking point

Dementia Action Week highlighted that our care system doesn’t recognise the value of unpaid carers, leaving many families at breaking point with no support provision or respite.  40% of family carers who care for a loved one with dementia said they provide over 100 hours of care a week, (that’s more than DOUBLE the UK’s legal working limit!) Worse still, this statistic was pre-COVID. Over lockdown, 76% of these carers said their responsibilities and hours had increased because of worsening symptoms and vital support groups remaining closed indefinitely.

MindforYou’s Founder Carol witnessed her Dad completely burn out as he struggled to care for her mother living with dementia. Could you imagine being on call all the time? On duty? Never getting a night’s sleep? No time to yourself or to relax with family and friends? This is the reality for most carers and the strain is often so great they forget to look after themselves. After a diagnosis of prostate cancer, Carol’s Dad joined the shocking statistic that 63% of family carers aged 69-96 die before those they care for.

Holidays were such a vital part of Carol’s parents lives before dementia, and they became an impossibility at the time when they were needed most. Many families, like Carol’s found that taking a break was too difficult and too stressful. A carer can sometimes feel guilty for leaving their loved one in traditional respite; and the specialised dementia care needed for both people to relax and enjoy themselves is not offered across standard holidays. So often, people find themselves with no other alternative.

Supported dementia holidays

Carol’s experience drove her to ensure people in desperate need of a break get the holiday they not only need but deserve. She launched MindforYou and their supported dementia holidays to help more couples experience the joy and relaxation you only find on a special holiday together. Since 2015, MindforYou have witnessed the incredible benefits in their guests spending more quality time with the ones they love. Couples are provided with a stress and guilt free alternative to traditional respite. They can enjoy special moments together and take part in a range of stimulating activities and excursions. The support allows carers to completely relax and switch off from their care routine. It also offers them the opportunity to meet like-minded people they can relate to, without fear of being judged.

We hope this blog has filled you with the hope that everyone can look forward to a holiday this Summer. In part two, we will look at the practicalities of planning a holiday and tips that can help.

MindforYou is a growing organisation and looking to build their community. If you would like to get more involved and help shape the future of MindforYou, visit their website. You can also watch a short film about them below.