A therapist is helping people with dementia return to their loved ones. The therapist and a wife showed us the progress her husband is making.
For the first time in years, Fran Lavine can spell and write his name. His wife, Barbara, says, since he started therapy, he hasn’t fallen once. The benefits have shown to go beyond physical improvements.
“We’ve been married 63 years. It was just 63 years in April,” Barbara said.
Barbara and Fran met when they were both 15 years old. Three years later, the two married.
“Eighteen, and they said it wouldn’t last,” Barbara said with a laugh.
For decades, the married couple raised a family and navigated life’s challenges together — until 13 years ago when Fran was diagnosed with vascular dementia.
“He started with peculiar things like brushing his teeth for a half hour, checking the doors, sometimes 20 to 30 times a night,” Barbara explained. “It just got so bad, and it almost seems like it was overnight … I was really thinking that we’d either have to get into assisted living, or I didn’t know.”
Giving up on Fran was not an option.
“What I do is actually most effective if the person is in their home,” said Matthew Call, the owner and exercise therapist at Alzheimer’s Home Therapy.
Call started working with Fran in January to guide him through physical and sensory therapy, along with mental exercises.
“I will do some exercise therapy to help with his physical ability,” Call said. “The exercises I also do improve such things as hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills … We’ll do mazes, puzzles, matching, arithmetic.”
These sessions have not been improvements for Fran alone.
“To see this change in him, it has done good for my heart,” Barbara said. “Even though they have that dementia, they’re still in there, and you need the help of somebody to pull that out.”
Since then, Barbara says Fran has been able to write again. He’s holding conversations, and he’s remembering family and friends.
“One night when we first got into bed, he said to me, ‘Honey, did you ever get married?’” Barbara explained. “And when he asked me that, it’s like I just got sad. And I said, ‘Yeah, I married you a long time ago,’ and he says, ‘Oh, I’m so happy because I love you so much.'”