Struggling with dementia

Yet again I feel compelled to rant about the lack of support for families with a loved one facing the challenge of dementia. It is like a form of bereavement as partners and children see their loved one seem to disappear beyond recognition.

As a carer it is so very difficult to have any resbite and so often the carer becomes ill and emotionally drained. After all they are not trained experts but are sent away from a doctor’s surgery with very little knowledge or information on how to communicate with somebody who is living in a very scary if not frustrating world. Too often dementia patients are taking to day centres where they may not actuualy want to be, it can be intimidating and perhaps one-to-one interaction would suit them better so seek help from a professional locally to you.

For those that are struggling please seek help and remember the Alzheimer’s Society have great information available and all free. If you are looking for a new charity/cause to support then please put this illness on your list.

Celebration of Life

I have just returned from a funeral and we all take what ‘fits well’ for us from the minister’s address. What was particularly nice today was the minister knew the deceased and her family well and it was personal. What I really liked was how he reminded the bereaved that the community were there for them, and in this case it really was true. We were all there to celebrate a life and were united in that.

As I always say in life we only get out what we are prepared to put in and when people give of themselves to others it is no hardship for that kindness to be returned. During the day’s events I had some interesting discussions with various attendees; both friends and family members who openly shared their feelings about loved ones they had lost.

I had a great chat with a lovely elderly lady and we agreed how comforting it is when nice things are said…but more importantly we discussed how it is also true of telling those we love them and appreciate them when they are alive.

I often post saying tell those you love today and every day. Live your life well and as I said to one lady have that second ice-cream..especially on a hot day like today.

Family love

Not only have we been blessed with amazing weather this weekend but many of us are blessed with having a loving family. I count myself in this category and had a beautiful day Saturday at a family wedding. I won’t name names but my niece looked absolutely stunning, and, as she walked to meet her wonderful hubby-to-be a few tears were shed by many a woman…and a few men.

There is nothing better than being surrounded by all generations of family at such special events, and our family has many interesting layers including second marriages. We are really lucky that we all mix well and enjoy each other’s company…we are family and that is all that matters. For a lovely lady that reads my blog you looked fab in that pink dress and you rock that sparkling cane!  

I am apologising publicly for my ‘mum dancing’ no excuses as I was sober – that’s the way I dance!!

Along with the joy of celebrating a beautiful union of a great couple there were moments of reflection of those who are no longer with us to share the day. Indeed, this was even  acknowledged within the speeches. At the end of the evening I collected flowers from the tables and yesterday placed them at church in memory of my own mother who I know would be so proud of all her children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren.

I had an interesting chat with my local minister and we agreed that it is only human to think of those we have loved and lost at times of celebrations and shed tears of happiness for that love we remember and hold dear.

If you know somebody who is recently bereaved make time to see them and allow them to talk freely about their loved one it really does help.

 

What’s wrong with me…get writing

Having many strings to one’s bow often means that some aspects of who we are and what we do get neglected. Mine of late has been my own writing projects in terms of both marketing them and writing itself.

My regular followers and friends know that the past few years I have been a mature student and also working with dementia clients and their families which has taken me away from ‘my writing babies’. So today I am back being a writer and dusting off my manuscripts along with all the other poor tortured writers and back pitching…

At a family event this weekend I was reminded about one of my very special projects now available on Amazon. ‘A Mother’s Love’ which includes great advice from my mentor and best friend:-

Mother-s love (1)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Annie-Manning/e/B005XXYJL0

Moving forward

After the loss of a loved one it is very hard for the bereaved to move forward and accept a new era of their life without them. For many older married couples the remaining spouse may have been a full time carer for sometime and that became their life’s role.

Speaking to a recently widowed lady I know it is not uncommon for the older generation especially to do everything together and this in itself can make it hard to venture out alone in search of new hobbies.

As with retirement many people find that they at last have time to persue the interests that previously may have been out of the question. With bereavement it is so often the case that a love one will feel an unwarranted sense of guilt to be seen to enjoy themselves.

Whatever your situation it is always a one step at a time process and regaining one’s sense of purpose takes time. For anyone recently bereaved please seek help and talk honestly to those that can offer support. Remember that you do not have to be a regular church-goer to speak to a local minister they are trained professionals and bereavement support is part of their community role.

Zena Skinner…saying goodbye

Earlier this week relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours said a fond farewell to the amazing Zena Skinner. This great lady will be missed to those that knew and loved her in her home village of Redbourn.

Known globally for her fame as a TV cook and celebrated author of many cookery books she was also a keen fundraiser  for the Keech Hospice…the collection on Wednesday at her funeral was also for the hospice so even after she lost her own fight with cancer she goes on to help others.

Aside of her culinary skills and community work she had a fantastic sense of humour and that is how I will remember her; making a group of ladies in the village hall kitchen howl with laughter with her collection of funny voices, and, her talk at the U3A 2016 gave an insight into the fascinating life she led…with her tales of being a Wren as young woman having the audience laughing all afternoon.

As I said to our wonderful Reverend Will Gibbs who took the funeral:

The Zena I knew would be saying why all the long sad faces?’

 

Coping with grief

In my privileged position in working with the bereaved I recognise that everyone grieves in different ways, at different times and in a family unit it is a very difficult time for all concerned.

One of the key things I have noticed is how parents hide their own feelings from their children feeling it inappropriate to cry in front of them. Of course this is to be expected and in a way for some admired but for the grieving parent who may have lost their life time partner it makes their own journey placed on hold to a certain degree.

The British way of being strong, keeping a stiff upper lip is one which frustrates me terribly and this, I speak from personal experience; as a child surrounded by adults set on surpressing their own grief and probably my own too. I always maintain to speak of our loved ones and remember them keeps them alive in our minds, our hearts and of course helps the bereavement process…to deny their existence is not only cruel but of no use to anyone.

If you know of any one mourning a loved one reach out to them and communicate, let them talk, let them cry if they need to…it’s normal. Most of all do not avoid visiting and please do not stop mentioning their loved one either – think of a funny story or a great occasion you shared.

 

Breast Cancer Awareness

Well done to all those ladies that took part in The Real Full Monty Ladies Night for breast cancer awareness. It was emotive yet positive viewing and the more that awareness helps with this disease the better. There were some very brave ladies taking part all credit to them.

Having lost two relatives to breast cancer many years back one can’t help wondering if more information was available and they had been privilege to the awareness we have now whether their stories could have been different.

Having worked within the not-for-profit sector for many years it is no secret that awareness is just as valuable as the fundraising for on-going research.

The loss of a great mind

I hardly dare write my blog today in honour of the great Stephen Hawking an inspirational man not just in terms of his great scientific mind but his amazing personal journey and fight against motor neurone disease.

As a non-science girl I believe he made science accessible, interesting and inspiring to everyone. He attended the great St Albans School where for many years they have had their own Stephen Hawking’s Society through which his works have encouraged many an inquisitive young mind, and, will continue to do so.

My title for today’s blog is of course a contradiction in terms as we haven’t completely lost a great mind as he leaves such a fascinating legacy. Our generation have been fortunate to have had him as a brilliant mind challenging the way we thought about the universe and its secrets.

All forms of media will be recording his many thought provoking quotes today -following taken from an interview on Radio 4 with John Humphreys:-

‘If we discovered the complete set of laws, and understood why the universe existed, we would be in the position of God. We are making progress towards that goal, but we still have some way to go.’

 

Empathy and confidence

It is no secret that one can learn empathy but nothing beats having walked in another’s shoes to really know how they feel. Even the most confident person has experienced times in their life when experiences have left them feeling isolated and possibly insecure. It takes great courage to fight the natural instinct of flight and stay and fight.

However, as one gets older and reflects back on those conflict situations we would rather not have encountered we realise that they were all indeed character building. I often say to those in need of positive input and support that no experience is a waste and it is true that it is not what happens in our lives but how we handle it.

I am mindful what works for one person will not work for another as we are all different but we all have to move forward and grow in our own way and try to be the best we can. As my great mentor used to say ‘worrying about things won’t change them’ and that is sound advice.

My years spent in marketing and sales it was a case of every complaint is an opportunity and when things are tough in life it can be just the opportunity we need to make that change in our lives we are struggling to avoid making.

Seize the day and live one day at a time…as in reality that is all any of us can do. Remain curious and take that adventure as it is offered.