'Miracle man' continues day-to-day life with Alzheimer's
When former FTSE 100 company director Hugo woke up from his month-long coma after suffering a haemorrhagic stroke, followed by bacterial meningitis, he and his wife Louise were told to expect a very different life from the one they had enjoyed previously – including the ability to walk.
Hugo overcame the odds of his traumatic brain injury and recovered well, getting back to many of the activities he did before including regular walks with their black Labrador, Flossie.
In 2021, Louise noticed some changes in Hugo’s behaviour and, in December 2021, a brain scan confirmed a diagnosis of mixed dementia, including Alzheimer’s.
Having learned to walk again following his stroke, he and Louise looked for support which would allow Hugo to keep active without Louise worrying if he has fallen or become lost.
Hugo's wife Louise said:
"I had no idea what was available for people with dementia before a specialist nurse sat down and explained the options we had available for managing Hugo’s condition, such as devices and support. The support worker Sarah, based at the hospital in Andover, explained that we could have an Oysta Pearl which could be used both inside and outside the home and would be funded by Hampshire County Council. I was astonished because I thought that everyone had to pay for the device themselves and pay for it to be monitored.”
The Pearl + is a mobile device backed by a cloud-based platform called ‘IntelliCare’ which features designated ‘safe zones’ for Vulnerable Independent People (VIPs) to travel, a fall sensor, location updates, status alerts, reminder messages and a one-touch SOS button.
It allows wearers the security to contact their care circle or the designated Alarm
Receiving Centre (ARC) should they require assistance or are lost or distressed.
“Hugo has been exceptionally receptive to wearing the device: He wants to do anything which would give me less anxiety. Before he takes Flossie for a walk “I still always say to him, “Have you got your lanyard on?” and he shows me he’s wearing it.”
Louise says she has twice been contacted by the ARC to say that Hugo had fallen, luckily this was due to him pressing the wrong button but it means they are both confident that should become less steady on his feet, and timely support will be at hand and she will be notified directly.
Hugo’s recovery and health has been so impressive that to this day, their doctor refers to him as ‘Miracle Man’ and uses Hugo’s brain scans as training on positive treatment.
“Hugo is not prone to falling at this stage, but clearly as the disease develops that could change quite radically, and that is where I think the Oysta device will come into its own. Right now, he can play golf with his friends or take a walk around the village and chat to neighbours and I don’t have to worry because this device gives me peace of mind.”
Getting the right support
Both Louise and Hugo were given specialist advice from a Mental Health Nurse who put them in touch with the charity Mind. “I had been looking at getting a fitness watch which had GPS which would allow Hugo to continue to get out and about but would also let me keep track of his location,” said Louise, “since a key symptom of Alzheimer’s and dementia is memory loss and getting lost. I was delighted to find out that I could have an Oysta Pearl+ device, provided by Hampshire County Council. The support and information from Mind has been exceptional.”
A scheme led by Hampshire County Council and the local police force found there was a 65% reduction in people reported missing to the police since patients with dementia were given an Oysta device.
“Hugo is active and goes out twice a day to walk the dog which helps keep him fit – a key factor in helping to prevent frailty and falls. When he goes out, I can carry on with my activities and hobbies, with the added reassurance that when he goes out, I can see which direction he has gone using IntelliCare. And if he is a little longer than normal, I can check to see if he’s on his way home after stopping to chat to a friend, or if he’s lost.”
Life after diagnosis
Hugo has made using the Oysta Pearl+ a habit; he puts it on charge when he comes home from his dog walk and it is in a set location to aid his memory.
“Oysta’s service and devices are phenomenal. I’m so impressed with what Oysta are doing and I want more people to know about it,” Louise says. “People should not think that a dementia diagnosis is the end: with the technology available these days, you can still live a happy and active life.”
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