Mirella came to the UK in the late 1990s from Canada for a gap year and decided to embark on a homeshare arrangement. Twenty years have since past, and during this time she has always homeshared with people living with dementia.
Mirella’s initially choose the homeshare route because she wanted a cost-effective rental option and didn’t want to live in a house full of roommates. Instead, she desired something quieter. She moved in with an older person living with dementia who wanted companionship and the reassurance of another person in their home overnight. Mirella’s initial homeshare experience was so wonderful and rewarding that she wanted to continue.
A rewarding experience
In recent years, Mirella moved into another homeshare, with a lady in her mid-90s who also lives with dementia. In close collaboration with Share and Care Homeshare, the family decided it was best to introduce Mirella to their mother as a friend of one of the daughters who needed somewhere to live. At first it was quite a disruptive experience as the lady was not used to having someone else live in her home. Every day there were different challenges.
Establish a smooth way of living
Between them, a smooth way of living together and sharing activities, was soon established. Mirella immediately recognised that the lady wanted help with making nutritious meals, so she makes sure that they cook and share meals together in the evening. They always sit in the living room with a tray on their laps, eating dinner and watching the news. This gives the lady an opportunity to discuss current affairs and put her opinion forward on different topics; it keeps the mind active.
They also put quiet time aside to sit and read. The lady Mirella homeshares with is fabulous at arranging flowers and so Mirella once planted some flower seeds to grow so that she would have fresh flowers to cut and arrange in a vase. Unfortunately, just as they began to grow, the lady dug them up thinking they were weeds, but never admitted to it of course! For Mirella this was frustrating but she says you learn to let it go.
Over the years Mirella has noticed that time changes the mind. Every day there are challenges which evolve. Dementia is a maze of changes. As a homesharer living with someone who has dementia, time out is so important, and Mirella has a job which provides a change of scenery and an opportunity to interact with other people.
Everyone gains from the experience
Challenges aside, everyone has gained enormously from the experience. Although Mirella supports the lady and her family, her support also comes from the family; everyone pulls together. Equally Mirella has support from Share and Care Homeshare, founded by Caroline whose father lived with dementia.
More than 20 years ago, a friend suggested homeshare to Mirella as a means to access affordable accommodation – Mirella has said that she is so pleased to have this experience, she learns more every day, and it provides her with an enormous sense of purpose and personal achievement.