Becoming social again

Thoughtful Engagement® was called to come for visits because Shanda’s aunt, Maureen, had moved in with them following a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia. Maureen had always been very active in the community. She had been a nurse practitioner before she had to retire. She was very dedicated to her patients and had a strong ethic of service. But since her move and retirement, Maureen began to withdraw, understandably depressed at the loss of her career and the loss of her independence.

The first few visits with the Thoughtful Engagement specialist were admittedly a bit rocky. When the specialist suggested they go out to lunch, Maureen declined. “Why would I want to do that?” So instead, they visited at the ranch where she lived.

Maureen gave the specialist a tour of the vegetable garden. The specialist asked lots of questions about nutrition, health, and medical practice. Maureen was delighted to share her knowledge with an “interested student.”

Maureen was very health conscious, so they next tried venturing out for walks. They explored all kinds of parks, leveraging Maureen’s love of nature. Over time, the trust was building.

Drawing upon Maureen’s helpful spirit, the specialist again suggested they also go to lunch, saying it would mean a lot to her if Maureen would join her for an outing and a meal. “Well, if it would make you happy,” Maureen replied. So they added lunch to their outings. Maureen began to genuinely enjoy herself. Soon she stopped saying “if it would make you happy.”

Maureen became more and more confident about going out and about her self-worth. She and the specialist went to the zoo, where Maureen marveled at the flamingos. They went to the music museum, and at another visit, to the botanical gardens.

Maureen was now eager to see the specialist and frequently voiced her appreciation: “Thank you so much. You are so special to me.”

Maureen’s niece was equally appreciative. It was a relief to see her aunt stimulated and social again.

“Thank you for spending time with her. You are one of the few people she remembers by name. You’ve given her something to hold on to.” —Maureen’s niece