about writing and life and God

Dementia Diary 17: Lunch plus

on November 2, 2012

Man may not live by bread alone, but when lunch is the highlight of Friday’s outing for your loved one with dementia, then a certain effort is required to provide a suitable venue, cuisine and glass of red. Today, however, it looked like I was going to fail.

I had tried booking our favourite restaurant online but without success. When we arrived in the chosen town, I headed straight for the restaurant to try again in person but only to be disappointed once again. It’s half-term holiday here in England and today is a beautiful bright autumn day so everybody and their children and/or grandchildren were making the most of the last free Friday before winter and winter term start in earnest. So no room at the inn for us.

After I’d parked the car, we had gone our separate ways. I had arranged to meet my husband at the restaurant. I try to encourage him to be as independent as possible and he still seems able to navigate this little shopping street and find the restaurant at the agreed time. But I needed to head him off at the pass before he got there where things had the potential to go a bit pear-shaped.

His usual habit is to work his way through each of the charity shops (and there are about 7) checking out their second-hand books. Trying to guess where he’d have got to, I began my search. But had a weird feeling I’d overlapped him somewhere and missed him. I tried to call his mobile but it was set to answerphone. And just as I looked up, I spotted him further up the street. Whew.

But now, where to go for lunch? We tried the up-market restaurant serving modern English food at a highish price. He seemed really uncomfortable as he perused the three menus they gave us. Far too much choice for him to cope with, so we moved on.

The rather nice home-cooked lunchery serving appealing soups didn’t appeal to him. It wasn’t licensed so there would be no red wine.

At this point I could feel panic setting in. We’ve been here so many times before. Once in Bruges, we worked our way along a row of about a dozen or more restaurants with no decision made and my blood sugar dropping alarmingly (along with my patience).

Then, bless him, completely out of the blue he said ‘Chinese?’ Since he usually doesn’t show any initiative, this was a surprise. But yes, across the road was a Chinese restaurant. We used to enjoy Chinese food but haven’t had any for ages, so off we went – and it was a triumph from start to finish.


The staff immediately recognised he needed extra help and leapt into unobtrusive action, helping with his jacket and his chair and his serviette. I noticed later when a gentleman struggled to help his wheelchair-bound companion with her coat, once again a staff member was instantly there, once more unobtrusively assisting.

It made me wonder are other cultures just kinder and more relaxed with folk who need a bit of help? I reckon we have a way to go to creating a dementia-friendly society. But today’s experience gave me hope. And I’m grateful!

The text: “Whatever you did for the least of these my brothers, you did for me” Matthew 25:40

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray Your blessings on all those who reach out to help us and our loved ones. Thank You that there are sensitive and kindly people who will help us. Give us unembarrassed grateful hearts!

Self-care suggestion: Let other people help you. You don’t get a medal for doing it all yourself. Yes, sometimes we have to ask. Try rewarding yourself for each time you are able to ask someone for help, or even talk openly about what you’re going through. It takes courage. You deserve a medal for that too!


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