Memory triggers

When working with my dementia clients and advising loved ones and carers of those meeting the every day challenge this brings the subject of memory triggers often comes up. The mind is an amazing storage system and the simplest of things can unlock a valuable or cherished memory

Any of our senses can transport us back to a memory and a time in our life and this may be hearing a piece of particular music or, perhaps,  the smell of a particular flower or a favourite childhood dinner. Our dementia hub members really enjoyed a musical quiz recently and had a good old singalong to boot!

Indeed this happened to me only this week, a belated birthday gift was some  hand cream and a brand I hadn’t seen for sometime – I remembered as a child seeing my mother’s jar in the kitchen. Not one for wearing gloves she kept it handy and always said:

‘I keep my cream in the kitchen for after I’ve washed up to remember to be kind to my hands.’ – On reflection what a great idea and I am going to do the same mum!

These simple memories all help us keep our loved ones alive and taking a moment in a busy day to be mindful and reflective never does any of us any harm…in fact I thoroughly recommend it. 

This post is for Peter who shared a musical memory earlier this week.



World Mental Health Day

I love these awareness days but we need to be aware every day that people we know, love and care about may be having struggles we cannot see. I remember my daughter’s drawing when she was younger the flower we see above the ground and the roots beneath depicting people’s emotions that are so often hidden.

If we have a broken leg or an arm in the sling we get immediate sympathy and people enquire as to how we did the injury. However, when we are suffering with mental health issues they cannot be seen -always consider that those who wear the broadest smile may well be suffering the most.

Dyslexia awareness week

I have just been reminded this week is Dyslexia awareness week. Having had the great privilege of working with people with Dyslexia I remain impressed with their determination to learn and improve their world.

Those of us who were schooled through 60’s,70’s on-wards all know how those that struggled were left to do just… that and to quote a frequent phrase ‘I was stuck on the stupid table’ .

As I often remind people  -there is no correlation between a lack of intelligence and being dyslexic. Indeed there are numerous, too many to count, great achievers who are dyslexic and NASA deliberately employ people with Dyslexia as they think much wider, are solution led and possess great creative minds.

Sadly many people who are Dyslexic have had such bad experiences – (which says more about the failing education system than their ability to read, spell and write)  that they are fearful to seek help. However, it is never too late to overcome our personal challenges and put those fears behind us.

I salute people like Olive Hickmott who have made such a difference in this area. I have just purchased her book ‘The Elephants in the  -Classroom’ and finding it spot on in terms of practical help and understanding the nature of those gifted people who just happen to be Dyslexic.

Evelyn -Netflix film

Yesterday as part of my own on-going R & D I watched the film ‘Evelyn’ on Netflix this was a really beautiful if not emotive film. It records the physical walking and emotional journey of a family and a few friends of their brother who had taken his life some years back. I thoroughly recommend this film which is really thought provoking. One of the brothers reads a poem called ‘walk within you‘ which was brilliant, He broke down whilst reading it and I confess to shedding a tear or so. This can be viewed on their website along with more information about the film and support for those dealing with a suicide loss.

Having worked with families who have lost someone and/or families and friends where somebody has attempted suicide I realise how vital it is that we continue to increase awareness and stop the subject of suicide being taboo…still! Especially in young men where the sad stats speak for themselves.

We are getting better in encouraging people to talk about their mental and emotional challenges but we have so far to go. Don’t struggle in silence -please, please talk to somebody and seek help.

Remember: Your loved ones need to know how you are really feeling – no make that want to know…

Lifting spirits with music

At last week’s local hub for those living with the challenge of Dementia we had a musical quiz which we all really enjoyed. The organisor had selected old tunes from TV programmes…I got a few wrong but remembered more than I care to admit which shows my age too! Well done to Sam for the fab choices and of course ‘Dad’s Army’ had to be the best one as everyone sang along for quite some time.

I have posted before about using our senses to trigger those memories we thought we had lost.  I had also enjoyed a fab session with one of my clients only the week before -sheer magic listening and singing along to old favourites like; Glen Miller -In the Mood & Moonlight Serenade, Nat King Cole -Stardust and the Bugle boy from company B (now was that the Beverly or Andrews Sisters? Answers on a post card to…)

Continuing on from my plea to continue to include and visit those with Dementia -turn up with a Bluetooth speaker and your Iphone and you can turn what may appear to be a difficult visit into something wonderful.

Mature students

Hello to all my fellow mature students and, that’s right, it is never too late to learn new skills. As the winter evenings will be drawing in and all those keen gardeners find themselves with time on their hands what better way to spend it than studying?

Self development should be on-going and I know from personal experience that as soon as I sign up for another course my mood is more positive. So today I have signed up for my winter therapy, which in turn, will benefit my clients,friends and family…that I have no doubt!

It is well documented that the more we exercise our body and our brains the better we feel – as for ageing.. I am continuing my fight against that one.

Good luck to all those students returning to university, college or home study – keep up the water and chocolate intake!

Dementia Hub

Following on from last night’s post this morning I was lucky enough to join a local hub for people living with Dementia and their carers. It was a small group and I was pleased to see a few faces that I knew from our village. One I hadn’t seen around for a while and the reason became clear quite quickly. The group lady leader was kind, patience and understanding and has been running this group and others in the Herts area for some time and it was obvious from what I saw today the people attending are enjoying the facility and finding great benefit.

Talking openly with a few of the partners/carers it was obvious that the knowledge and empathy that I have gained these past four years was spot on. These amazing people carry a huge challenge and often try to spare their friends and family by taken everything on themselves.

They all agreed how having time for themselves is crucial though in short supply and they kindly shared how when they are away they feel, at times, either guilty or anxious for leaving their husband or wife. Its finding somebody that you feel able to trust to leave in your home alone with your loved one and anybody that is a stranger really does need time to get to know the person with Dementia before one can safely leave the house. As always references and checks must be taken and having somebody first aid trained may be useful but for those with particular medical issues proper trained staff must be sort -though the latter are unlikely to be activity driven.

What was also quite obvious is how families living with Dementia fall off the social calendar with others and as I said last night try to make the effort to give some time and relief believe me they need it. People with Dementia often become withdrawn and depressed and want to feel useful and included not forgotten.