Suz and David’s Story
The restaurant highlighting what is possible
One of the many positive outcomes of the TV series The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes was that it helped to dispel misconceptions of what a life with Dementia is like – by showing that people with this diagnosis can still do amazing things. The 8 fabulous restaurateurs, who have been involved with Dementia NZ services, provided a snapshot of what is possible.
Everyday many of our clients are being empowered to have confidence in their capabilities and continue to be highly regarded members of society, doing things that defy stereotypes and their own expectations.
Suz, who was diagnosed at age 58. was one of the participants in the show. Her husband David says her world would have been a lot smaller without the opportunities provided by Dementia New Zealand. During the years they have been involved in Dementia NZ, Suz has participated in an art group, walking group, Zoom travel group and a Young Women’s social group, which has helped her to thrive for longer.
David says maintaining social contact would otherwise have been difficult, as their social circle became more insular upon diagnosis. Friendships became far fewer, probably as a result of people not knowing how to relate to them anymore.
As social stimulation is one of the things proven to slow down cognitive decline, the friendships couldn’t have been needed more. Social interaction is akin to exercise for the brain, it can slow deterioration in cognitive function and boost mood and self-esteem, which in turn fosters better eating habits, more motivation for exercise and facilitates better sleep. Never have we had a time in history where we understand the huge impacts of social isolation more than in this post-Covid lockdown era.
Suz was at times reluctant to go to her art group but always came back with a spring in her step and sense of achievement. She got the physical and social benefits out of the walking group, where she formed some strong bonds, and particularly valued the connection in a group with other Young Onset women. This year she joined the Young Onset Day Programme, providing a much-needed service for the under 65’s – who account for 12 per cent of those diagnosed.
So when TV producers came calling, Suz had the confidence that this was another thing she could conquer.
“She got a positive kick out of doing something worthwhile, It took her a long time to come down from the high of it,” says David.
She loved the teamwork environment and got a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment out of doing something worthwhile
“I was so proud of her and pleased that she had the opportunity to do something meaningful.”