Joan and Harry's adventure with dementia - Juniper

Joan and Harry’s adventure with dementia

When Joan was diagnosed with dementia in her early 50s, she and her husband Harry embarked on an “adventure with dementia” and set off in their caravan with a mission to embrace life to the fullest.

“It was one of our greatest decisions. We went away at least twice a month and had so many amazing experiences. From exploring gold mines and attending rodeos to helicopter rides over the Apostles and whale watching. We filmed everything, so we could always look back at our memories and cherish them forever,” said Harry.

“We joke that we have been everywhere man, and we have that many t-shirts and tea towels to prove it that we cannot get into our caravan.”

As Joan’s dementia progressed over the years, the Perth couple always found a way to adapt. They applied the changes they made in the caravan to their home, ensuring that when they weren’t traveling Joan always felt comfortable and in control.

“My main goal was to always prioritise Joan’s happiness. Joan handled all the tasks inside the caravan, while I took care of everything outside. This arrangement helped Joan stay occupied while we were traveling. We shared some wonderful experiences during our trips, and those memories still bring us joy today,” added Harry.

After over 10 years of adventures, Harry was faced with a difficult decision. He knew he couldn’t continue to provide the care and support Joan needed to live comfortably at home.

“In 2019, Joan moved into Juniper Chrystal Halliday Residential Aged Care Home in Karrinyup. We now use an Apple TV to show our photos and sit together and reminisce about our time on the road. It’s amazing what she remembers,” said Harry.

Harry now visits his beloved wife several times a week and takes her on walks around the area.

“Juniper Chrystal Halliday is in such an amazing location. The home has ocean views and whenever I take Joan for a walk in her wheelchair there are always so many beautiful flowers and trees around. Joan loves it.” said Harry.

“My advice for anyone who may be going through a similar experience is to accept it and never stop doing things that you and your loved one enjoy, such as going on trips, trying new hobbies, or simply spending quality time together. We found having a caravan as a second home gives stability and a sanctuary while touring, decreasing the stress of unknown hotel rooms.”