I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon near Valtos today, where Jessie celebrated her 95th birthday along with her immediate and extended family, neighbours, holiday visitors and family visitors.
There was birthday cake and a summery birthday tea of prawns, salmon, crab sandwiches, fresh baked scones with crowdie and cream and plenty of salad and oatcakes.
Birthday presents were beautiful brooches a rose necklace, a badge declaring ‘young at heart’, roses galore and a spectacular drawing of a sailing boat by a very talented young artist. Lots of cards were lovingly written with very personal messages and more kept arriving all afternoon.
Jessie brought the ceilidh with songs that she used to sing to Chrissie as a child. There were stories of India and Lewis. I asked Jessie her secret for a good long life and she said “I don’t know…I can’t quite believe it, I’m 95!’ And then she went on to explain how wonderful her carers are, supporting her at home.
Chrissie proved that you are never too grown up to sit on Mum’s knee. Although Jessie assured her, it would definitely be the last time!
Jessie’s memory for the village layout and who lived and lives where is incredible, she was able to reel off great long lists of neighbours and houses.
Staran Transport was fabulous, we made the birthday tea ourselves and with some family and neighbourhood love, some warm and sensitive support in the background, nobody cared about dementia or mobility issues or frailty or age or isolation or ‘can’t’ or ‘disabled’. It was just a birthday party on a warm and sunny afternoon in a little village by the blue-green Atlantic Ocean.
And for me, that’s what a Dementia Friendly Community is. A community that understands what is needed because it knows the people individually and quietly supports them, completely understanding the value of older people and their families. A fully functioning community is, by nature, supportive of it’s community needs and values each person within it.