Dementia -kindness and understanding

I have neglected my blog for many months but this has been down to many reasons. Heavy client commitments as I have continued my journey working with wonderful clients with Dementia and their amazing families as they all learn to live with the challenge of living with Dementia and last few months with own health issues. I confess to perhaps suffering compassion fatigue which I know my carers feel only too often but continue on daily – down to their love for their partner/family member and a tremendous sense of duty.

I always say I feel so privileged and somewhat humbled by the career path I chose these past seven years and so blessed to become part of such lovely families. My work is so rewarding and brings me great joy though there are many days and times where I too am left emotionally drained but still feel so lucky to be supporting families and getting to know my special clients.

Rightly or wrongly I become so very close to my clients and grow to love them and extremely grateful for their families making me feel so welcome in their homes and really making me feel part of their family. Whilst I am pleased when families give me great compliments, personal recommendations and testimonials for my website the key for being successful in my person centred cognitive work relies heavily on kindness and understanding -the professional qualifications are a bonus.

I recently lost one of the kindest most wonderful men I have had the privilege to work with for over four years, and, whilst his dementia sadly progressed he never ever lost his good manners, sense of humour or being grateful – a lesson many could learn. My time spent with him I will treasure. Such magical times with days of fun and even the days we cried (moved by our joint love of classical music) were worth their weight in gold. He has left a great hole in my heart but he has also inspired me to do more in my quest to understand this cruel disease and hopefully make a difference where I can.


Worrying about things won’t change them!

A phrase my amazing mother used to say on a regular basis and how true it is for all of us. However, there are times when it is easy to say but harder to put into practice as even I found myself just doing that at half past three unable to sleep this morning. Hot milk and watching Kevin Costner seemed to do the trick eventually and I remain surprised I eventually fell asleep watching my favourite actor.

Maybe we could get him on prescription….in the unlikelihood of getting a doctors appointment I will bring the matter up! Keep smiling fellow bloggers and avoid worrying.

Learning to live with the challenge of Dementia

I have been neglectful in not writing my blog but busy working with clients and their families facing the daily challenge of living with Dementia. Most people have no comprehension of the struggle carers (often wives or husbands) have to deal with in trying to get their loved one to complete the most simplest of tasks – which we all take for granted.

For many families just getting their partner washed and dressed every morning can be overwhelming, stressful and exhausting. What works successfully for weeks in terms of routine and negotiating can suddenly become impossible to achieve.

Carers, for far too long, are the unsung heroes in coping with this devastating illness. More often than not feel they have failed in their duty on the difficult days they feel they have reached the end of their tether. As I remind my clients; they are amazing and must never feel guilty when they feel this way but be proud of what their love and devotion does day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.

However, one of my main disappointments is how friends and even relatives so often stay away, mainly by their lack of knowledge and fear of the unknown, when they could just pop in an ease the strain. Both carers and those with Dementia too often spend hours alone when a short visit from a friendly face would make such a difference to their day. The person you knew and loved is still in there you just have to look and their carer is often desperate to talk to somebody.

I love my work and my lovely clients and enjoy such wonderful experiences and know how just a little engagement can make somebody’s day. If my post today prompts just one person in making the effort to find time to visit somebody they know in this situation…then my work here is done.

Head full of Honey -Alzheimer’s film

I have just watched the brilliant film ‘Head full of Honey’ recently loaded on Netflix. I can thoroughly recommend this a must see film for anyone who has a family member meeting the daily challenge of Dementia. It is a beautiful film which touches the heart but also gives good advice all the way through. It focuses on bringing joy to the person with Dementia and the importance of them feeling loved and needed.

The story is told through the eyes of a very young granddaughter who joins in the world her Grandfather now lives in but more importantly she creates adventures for him and makes his final months happy. It shows how others interact perhaps not in the best way initially then they see the error of their ways. There is a great scene when he goes to see a doctor and depicts how despite of his own challenges can still make people laugh. I see this a lot with my own work with those with Dementia and it is indeed true bring them joy and you will find that person is still there.

It is a very positive film and perhaps not as sad as others seem to portray the journey of deterioration associated with Dementia but nonetheless it is emotive.

Dementia and us

I have finally got around to watching the first of the BBC2 two part programme ‘Dementia and us’. I would recommend this emotive but informative viewing to anyone supporting those with Dementia. Part II is on this evening and includes how people with Dementia and their carers were affected by the Pandemic. I know from the voluntary support work I provided during this time it was especially hard for all those concerned. Regular visitors to my blog (albeit neglected for a few months) would know that over the past six years I have worked in this demanding but rewarding sector and where possible help with awareness.

Living with Dementia is a challenge and like any serious illness it has the ripple affect which touches everyone connected to their loved one. One thing I always ask politely is please do not abandon somebody you know once they are diagnosed, they are still in there, and would appreciate your time and kindness. So ,continue to visit them and include them as much as possible in suitable activities and celebrations.

I see my time spent supporting families, carers and those with Dementia as a real privilege and have enjoyed furthering my knowledge and understanding gaining further qualifications in this area. However, you don’t have to become an expert but you can obtain excellent information which will help you in your own approach from or telephone 020 7423 3500. They have a brilliant selection of literature which will make life easier for carers and family members.

Yoga… finding time for you

Again, my little world of blogging had been neglected, and, I am ashamed to say, so had finding time for myself. This I have begun to remedy by recently re-joining yoga. OK I haven’t managed to go every week as my class clashes with my local Dementia hub which I love to support…but when I can I am attending both -arriving late at my hub.

My own reality kick has been how good Yoga is, a time for one’s self, a time to leave everything aside, relax, and refocus positive energy. My delay in returning had been partly due to medical limitations but as a life coach I know the benefits of doing something spiritual or fitness related are high.

I have a great teacher in Nikki who has been flexible in my approach to lessons, restrictions, and, irregular attendance. With Friday morning classes in Methodist church hall 9.30 to 10.30 and Thursday evenings St Mary’s hall 6.30 to 7.30 -there really is no excuse for me to get my act together…am hoping a few other friends I know from Redbourn will join me.

Ladies, please find time for yourself… I have to admit the days I attend Yoga class I sleep much better.

Energy bills

So for those of you who have yet to have a smart meter my advice today is to make sure you do read meters regularly. In the past we would have our meters read few times a year by our energy suppliers -no longer the case. Most of us have the budget accounts and the onus is on us to read meters to raise bills. I am still surprised how few people realise that the energy suppliers are not entitled to keep large build up of credit and should refund monies to customers.

OK I hold my hands up; whereas we used to read meters religiously/quarterly I left mine longer this time -though mindful due to this lovely weather and longer colder period all our winter heating bills will be heavier this year as will electricity with so many of us working from home. I was surprised however when I submitted my readings on line that the usual online system of a bill being produced hadn’t happened. I kept checking for a few days and eventually entered into the realms of the ‘online chat room’ wherein I had to insist that a bill be raised. I was advised ‘we only do them once a year now!’ Reluctance was the order of the day but I persisted being told it would take 24 hours to be available.

OK -next part of the saga. When I printed off the six months bill it had been split into two parts both for Gas and Electricity as I had changed tariff -fair enough. I hold my hands up again as I perhaps should have read my meters at the end of the old tariff….an error on my part I now see. (Hey I don’t think I have ever done that and looking back should have). In the circumstances my energy supplier have decided to guess my usage for both periods and opting to use the higher previous tariff to bill me for a higher percentage of the bill. I can see that there is no way they can know what my actual usage is nor neither can I prove otherwise. (OK except roughly based on previous years usage if one had submitted quarterly)

So my advice, and after, reporting this strange/unfair practice to Which to investigate and the Ombudsman we can all agree that perhaps many consumers may open themselves up to being overcharged in this way. I am choosing my words carefully here as I am in the middle of a continued complaint. Even the Ombudsman suggested companies will use the onus on customers reading meters as their get out clause.

So please be aware, check and submit readings regularly and definitely read meters as one tariff ends and another starts especially if the newer tariff is a better deal. I did take time to report this as I fear there are many elderly/vulnerable people who may not have access to the internet and may find the new practices of energy suppliers daunting and confusing to say the least. I am sure Martin the money man would be questioning some of these new practices being used with energy suppliers. Maybe smart meters is the safer bet.

Supporting local businesses

There has never been a better time and indeed needed to promote and support local businesses. We are really fortunate in our village to have some great local businesses. Great Pubs; The Holly Bush and The Cricketers who have been so kind to locals and community minded during the past year offering take-aways and deliveries but are now thankfully fully open for business. We just need that summer weather to enjoy the gardens and support their forthcoming events.

However, during the past year I think many of us may have got fed up with cooking whilst, at times, our favourite pubs and restaurants have been shut. Whilst many are now gradually opening there are still many people who are home based more than they would like due to one reason or another…especially the elderly. This is when local delivery services can step in. One such business for tired cooks and perhaps the elderly is Chandlers who provide wonderful Sunday dinners and platters with delivery service. Occasionally I use their services as a treat from cooking for me, and also for my dementia clients and their carers. For the latter this is a real treat and something to look forward to. One of mine has been in catering herself and an excellent home cook but she thoroughly enjoys Chandlers’ menu and the high quality food. I am mindful many people may still feel uncertain about eating out just yet and a take away or home delivery can fill this void meanwhile.

Hard work and dedication

Following one’s dreams is never an easy journey. However, with hard work and dedication and focusing one’s passion the dream will eventually become a reality. To all those students studying hard and making sacrifices it will all be worthwhile in the end.

The past year has been particularly tough for students of all ages with many not having the university experience they had hoped and envisaged. I must confess to feeling concerned for all those young people who have been cooped up in their bedrooms watching lectures online and sitting exams under some very different and challenging circumstances.

So to all those that have managed to pass and exceed their own expectations I salute you for your strength of character… that perhaps even your own parents have been surprised you possess You have all had to dig deep and work hard -but as one card to my own daughter’s success said ‘You’ve smashed this’. Our younger generation will certainly look back on this time in the future and wonder ‘how the hell did I do that?’

For those students who have chosen long and serious courses having a break and having a bit of ‘young life and fun‘ is vital -again this passed year has made that near on impossible. But as we ease away gradually from all the restrictions my advice is to please take time out and reconnect face to face with friends…safely.

I know my own choice to continue my own CPD during lockdown gave me focus, kept me occupied and some resemblance of normality and sense of purpose.

Good luck to all who are continuing to follow that dream…keep at it.

Dementia week

I always like to help promote specific awareness week for charities and illnesses as unless your own family has been personally touched then a little awareness of what other people’s challenges may be does us no harm. So the past week has been Dementia awareness week. Fortunately, I have the great privilege of working with families with loved ones who are meeting the challenge daily.

So my awareness week, in some ways, is as every week….though every day and every session I spend with carers and dementia clients is in itself magical and my knowledge of Dementia grows. This week I have enjoyed all forms of cognitive work with my regular clients and have included both musical and laughter therapy. Lifting spirits with music and laughter makes such a difference. We all have our own personal song book and sense of humour.

There are one or two songs that are extremely special to my clients and recently ‘Getting to know you’ from ‘The King and I’ film seemed so appropriate as my regular visits give me the great opportunity to really get to know the people that need and appreciate the time and support I provide.

This week one of my lovely clients, a female carer, gave me such a lovely heartfelt testimonial for me website. Saying I had ‘been a Godsend’ and ‘always welcome in her home…and thanking me for all the laughs we have.’

My work is demanding but is so very rewarding and I am so thankful I have left my old corporate life for something so worthwhile.