Supporting Dementia

I have been off my blog the past few weeks as I have been pre-occupied with working and completing my advance Dementia Care course in readiness of getting back at some stage with my lovely dementia clients and their amazing carers. During lock down it has  been incredibly tough, with all forms of respite having closed down, carers have had to manage with little or no support.

In our village we have been fortunate to have had a great dementia hub running on a Friday morning and we have all really missed this opportunity to meet, socialise and enjoy cognitive activities. Hubs such as this give the carers a chance to talk to other carers and feel safe in an environment where everybody understands the challenge of living with a loved one with dementia.

We have a lovely hub co-ordinator and between us we have managed to maintain regular contact with all members and as I discussed today with one lovely member – we are like a family.

I hope when things return to some form of normality this group and other much needed respite centres can re-open. Meanwhile, if you know anybody who is a carer, not just of somebody with dementia, try and give them some type of support even if it is just a telephone call once a week so they know they are not forgotten.

Kindness

During Mental Health Awareness week I will continue to blog about kindness and this is whether it is being kind to yourself and/or others.

I remember many years ago a client used to regularly say to his staff:-

It’s nice to be important but more important to be nice’

I guess being kind is part of being considered a ‘nice person’. Alongside my course work my reflective reading this week includes:

‘The language of kindness…A nurse’s story’ by Christine Watson. It is a beautiful book of her time as a nurse giving an insight to just what nurses do on an every day basis. There are many quotes I could offer but the following observation I  think says it all….and probably the same about all of us.

As we become physically stronger life makes us more emotionally fragile’

I think we call this growing up, evolving and coping with whatever life throws at us.

Be gentle with others but be gentle with yourselves, and if you are struggling let somebody know.

Remember the theory about swimmers in trouble…are you just waving or are you actually needing help?

Mental Health Awareness Week

It is Mental Health Awareness Week though I don’t think there has ever been so much mental health awareness than during the past weeks of lock-down. There are many people who appear to be taking everything in their stride and seem happy when the reality may be they are struggling ‘behind the painted smile’.

The best thing of course to come out of these unprecedented times is the fact that all forms of media are talking about mental health and well-being and offering advice and ways to keep positive.

If you know that a friend or family member is predisposed to feelings of anxiety or depression please do your best to support them and remind them of the various support agencies….and of course that it is good to talk and it’s OK not to feel OK.

My regular advice to friends and family is of course to not allow the negative news reports to consume you, best not to keep watching it… but focus on more positive things for the future, lose yourself in a good book, listen to some uplifting music or watch something funny. Laughter is best therapy and kindness is of course the best gift we can give along with our understanding rather than judging.

 

Be kind to yourself and be grateful

Today I listened to Olive Hickmott’s  positive talk on ‘Active in Redbourn’ which was just what our community needed. I first heard Olive speak some twenty years ago at a Women In Business Networking event and have continually been inspired by her work. My blog today (and indeed most days) echoes everything this amazing woman speaks of.

Suggesting keeping a diary to record things to be grateful for.  Olive – I couldn’t agree more.  I am a strong believer that writing is indeed therapeutic even if nobody else ever reads it. I have always been a great advocate for practising mindfulness and being grateful at the end of each day for what has been good about our day and what is good in our life… which we may have been taking for granted.

I  often remind friends, family and clients to be kinder to themselves and not to be so hard on themselves when tackling a difficult phase in their life. Having a positive outlook will always help us to get through the tough times and realising there are many things in life that we cannot change, but learning to accept, will help us adapt to our new situation.

Our lives during lock-down may, for many, have changed beyond recognition but perhaps given us the opportunity to reflect on what is really important, and, learn new skills and adopt more positive practices.

Trying to keep things in perspective, and, as hard it may seem, keep a sense of humour and learn to laugh more is sound advice. Have fun…we all remember having fun? As my own mentor always maintained laughter is a good tonic.

There is no doubt that being positive and doing things that make us and those around us happy certainly does help to keep us healthier in mind, body and spirit.

Considering the carers

In my village we are lucky there is a great community spirit with people doing all sorts of acts of kindness and offering practical help. We even have a newsletter that is growing week by week with advice to help those in need.

I was asked to contribute something about Dementia and this as my regular followers know is a subject dear to my heart.  So today’s blog I will include an exert because during these past challenging months it has been harder still for carers.

It has never been easier to access information which may just help you feel more comfortable spending time with a loved one or friend. As always, I recommend visiting the Alzheimer’s Society’s website where you will find literature and advice – all free. Their array and quality of literature (which can be posted out) is superb with great tools to help with positive engagement.

www.alzheimers.org.uk. Support line 0333 1503456

Remember: During the lockdown those caring for somebody with Dementia have had no respite. Day centres and hubs are closed, support workers and family members having to safe distance and not enter homes has left carers coping 24/7 and more often than not with continued disturbed sleep.  If you can find time to ring the carer just to let them know they are not forgotten it will really make a difference.

As my own mentor used to say the biggest gift we can give of ourselves is our time.

Looking forward

There has never been a more crucial time in most households to plan ‘loosely’ something to look forward to. We will resume normal life, but meanwhile we have to continue to be sensible. I hope I’m not the only ‘party pooper’ who feels that things may get dangerously lapse during the 75th VE day anniversary celebrations?

When we look at all the various TV documentaries being rolled out for VE day, and plan garden celebrations this Friday we must be mindful that the ‘enemy’ this time round is invisible and there is no warning unlike the sound the doodlebugs made when bombing parts of our great country. But I will be getting out a tea dress to wear as I raise a glass albeit safe distance…and I think a sing along seems inevitable.

I feel for the older generation who may be feeling very isolated and not having the choice or ability to have a zoom party or enjoy all the various jokes and video clips being circulated which really lift spirits.

For my own part I am reminding my elderly, clients, friends and families that we will do really nice things together and just holding that thought definitely helps…a little. There is no substitute for human interaction but keeping communication by whatever means is well received.

In our own village some of the younger children have been busy making cards for those that live alone and these have meant such a lot. There will be treats finding there way to these star families for certain.

Being grateful and feeling appreciated

The past few days I thought I would catch up on some reflective reading and picked up my copy of  ‘Love for Imperfect Things’ By Haemin Sumin. I have read several of his amazing books and often bought copies as gifts.

Never has his words of wisdom been more appropriate than now when many people have more time to reflect. I am therefore selecting two of his quotes for today’s post:-

A good job and money are important to our well-being, but when our relationships are harmonious, and we feel appreciated and accepted, that is when we feel most peaceful and content’

Recall one person whom you were grateful to recently. Send her a thank-you email or text message right now. While you write it, you will notice your heart feels warm and happy’ 

Feeling appreciated is often all we need from those we are close to and if we can feel grateful for what we have and what others do we are definitely happier and more contented. I think in the rush of modern day living too often we forget these two simple, though important aspects of relating to others.

Of course remembering just to be kind to ourselves…  as at the moment, self care is vital, and, just as important  as what we are doing to help and support others.

Take care and keep well.