Living out of town in a remote part of Tasmania with her soulmate was what Joan called ‘the perfect life’. But the day she woke to find an empty space in the bed next to her and no sign of her husband, Thomas, alarm bells rang and suddenly life didn’t seem so perfect.
Eight years ago at the age of 73, Thomas was diagnosed with vascular dementia. He and Joan lived together and had been married for more than twenty years. They enjoyed each other’s company and the tranquil atmosphere that their home occupied out in the open. They also enjoyed social gatherings and the weekly trips into town to do groceries or catch up with friends. They were, and still are, quite fond of their small, close-knit community. After Thomas’ diagnosis, this appreciation grew stronger as Joan began to realise the benefits of knowing the people in the community and the safety it provided Thomas.
The day Joan woke to no sign of Thomas was just one of the days that Thomas’ condition raised concern. Thomas woke early in the morning, walked outside and down the road towards the town centre. He managed to hitch a ride into town with a passer-by and made his way to the front of a local café. The staff at the café recognised Thomas as both he Joan frequented the café on a weekly basis. They saw that Thomas was alone and looked disorientated, so they called Joan to inform her of Thomas’ whereabouts. The call came as a huge relief to Joan, who had spent the past 3 hours looking for Thomas in and around the property and surrounding bush.
This story could have had a terrible ending, but thanks to the understanding, support and observance of the community, Thomas was kept safe, and Joan informed, relieved and forever thankful.
This is a story of a community who are caring, alert, and supportive of people with dementia and their loved ones. If this was not the case things could have ended very differently.
Joan is a beautiful warm kind hearted lady always so caring to all the residents and Thomas, who is a wonderful man .
Thomas is in our secure ward at Eliza Purton and Joan is such an inspiration to everyone with her positive attitude and willingness to support new and stimulating activities for the residents. Such a lovely couple.