When I was on the way back from an annual trip to the south of France that I make with my family in our campervan I was thinking how things have changed. We made friends years ago with some French people just like us and we usually park up at their house for a few days before heading north again.
Well, actually they are not exactly like us…For example they eat outside most days of the year and seldom leave their home to go on holiday. They live in a small house which has been in their family for generations and they live off a lot of their own produce. The mother does her housework in her bikini because it is so hot, and she is fit from running and cycling.
But when we sit around the family table at breakfast, lunch and dinner with them, though we are restless from house moves and travelling the world, and slightly less fit, and reddened by the unaccustomed sunshine, our conversations are about the same values and the same challenges.
How much is it going to cost for grand Pere to go to a maison de retriait? What kind of experience did grand mere have when she went for respite? What can we do about the unmarried uncle who lives alone and won’t either leave his house or accept outside help now that he has become very frail?
The conversations we used to have were much more varied. In the past they didn’t want to talk about my work in the fields of nursing and dementia any more than I did on holiday. But now they are more interested than anyone would wish, because the need for information and advice in France is as great as anywhere else. Not least, the next generation, who sit with us at table listen to what we are saying.
Before long they will have the same challenges to take care of some of us. Many of them will have to leave home in order to find work and independence, and where will we all be then?
I suspect that the lady of the house will be in the same place at the age of ninety, still doing her housework in her bikini, in the house she has always known, eating her own produce. Her lifestyle is one that would reduce the symptoms of dementia, even if she gets Alzheimer disease.
Exercise, fresh vegetables and a proper Mediterranean diet, living in her own familiar surroundings , with a lot of socialising and some red wine…and a coffee In the morning. She will be there when I am worrying about where I live, and wishing I had lived a little bit more wisely. Now on the way back home, I’m writing my resolutions about a better way of living! For more ideas on how to stay well try here