In a heartfelt interview with Eric and Vivian Tischler, their journey through Group Homes Australia’s innovative dementia retreat program comes to light. These retreats, designed to provide respite and support for couples living with dementia, have proven to be a beacon of hope and learning amidst the challenges of memory loss and caregiving.
The Tischlers’ daughter, Louise, played a pivotal role in introducing them to the dementia retreat program. Louise first encountered a news story about Group Homes Australia and the Dementia Retreats on Channel 9. Subsequently, while listening to Sarah Macdonald on ABC radio conversing with Tamar Krebs, the founder of Group Homes Australia, Louise felt a strong connection to the program. This led her to explore the opportunities provided by the retreats, opening up avenues of understanding and support.
Vivian Tischler’s diagnosis of Vascular Dementia around 12 months ago marked a turning point for the family, leaving them grappling with limited information and a bleak outlook from health professionals.
Louise’s initiative to explore the dementia retreats, fueled by her desire to comprehend and navigate the challenges ahead, became an important moment for the family. The program’s focus on not only supporting caregivers but also fostering understanding from the perspective of the person living with dementia resonated deeply with them.
The Tischlers embarked on their first-ever retreat experience with minimal expectations, hoping for greater insight into dementia. However, they were pleasantly surprised by the comprehensive and professional seminar-style program awaiting them, including 5-star accommodation and excellent meals.
The five-day live-in retreat catered specifically to their needs as a couple navigating dementia. The presence of other couples facilitated the sharing of experiences and emotions, enhancing the sense of community, which is continuing via a WhatsApp group for sharing learnings as they all navigate a common journey. The retreat fulfilled their thirst for dementia education and understanding, providing a platform for open discussions under the guidance of specialist facilitators, who were described as ‘Just amazing’.
“ATTENDING THIS RETREAT HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST POSITIVE EXPERIENCES OF OUR LIVES – AND AT A TIME WHEN WE NEEDED IT THE MOST …”
Eric and Vivian Tischler
The retreat covered a wide range of topics crucial to dementia care. Eric and Vivian learned valuable strategies and insights that they beginning to integrate into their lives. Some notable takeaways include self-care awareness to prevent caregiver burnout, recognising unmet needs, and enhancing communication. The retreat emphasised maintaining a positive and respectful attitude while communicating with those impacted by dementia, utilising non-verbal body language, and fostering connections.
Implementing the knowledge gained from the retreat into their daily lives requires fundamental changes in habits and attitudes. Eric acknowledges the importance of applying the retreat’s lessons, which he has documented in the ‘Rementia Together’ workbook (along with other material) obtained at the retreat.
Eric and Vivian’s experience at the Group Homes Australia dementia retreat has brought a glimmer of hope into their lives, even amidst the uncertainties posed by Vivian’s diagnosis. The program’s unique blend of education, support, and community engagement has left an indelible mark on their journey…
For further information about future retreats: 1300 015 406 or visit the retreat website: grouphomes.com.au