I am chilling before coaching this evening and listening to a new CD covers of Nat King Cole by Gregory Porter which includes ‘Smile‘ a brilliant old song which was written by the great Charles Chaplin.
As my blog featured yesterday music can transport us back in time to places and people and the song ‘Smile‘ reminds me of my great mentor, mother and best friend who used to sing this song if you were feeling a bit down. Music can life our spirits or as my fab mum used to say ‘get’s my motor running’ as she would dance around the house and I know exactly what she means.
Just think of any great film you have watched which would be far less amazing if not for it’s score. Music is part of all our lives for so many reasons…it’s our own sound track.
So if you are feeling lonely or down put some uplifting music on and remember a smile is a frown that is upside down..so turn it around. Dancing is good exercise…even Dad Dancing!
During my privileged experience of working with dementia clients and their families I always maintain that getting to know the unit is vital. Making my sessions personal and enjoyable for the person facing the challenge of dementia has been my daily aim this will include working with all the senses to act as triggers for positive and happy memories. Music is one way of communicating universally with people of all ages and with all challenges including children with severe learning difficuties as well as those with alzheimers.
Last night when attending a local talk I discussed how I feel very strongly that nobody should be forced to attend a day centre if that is not for them and/or to take up painting or any other activity – if they didn’t like it before then don’t assume they will now! Encouragement yes by all means. I have heard how people have become agitated when placed in unfamiliar surroundings and one of the best and easiest ways to dilute anxiety is to avoid it.
Carers wellbeing is just as important as those suffering with dementia and too often pride prevents them from asking for help from those that believe they are coping better than they are. They need a break away from the 24/7 life with dementia which may have become their way of life and often making them a prisoner in their own home.
Sometimes carers lead a withdrawn life as they feel embarrassed by their partners behaviour or others have made them feel uncomfortable – we need far more understanding generally towards those families living with dementia.
I often write about dementia being similar to a bereavement and talking to children faced with parents with dementia this is so often the best way to describe how they feel as they lose the person they love.
If you are looking for a new charity to support then consider the dementia charities -Alzheimers Society and/or Dementia UK they need your help to fund care, research and support.
Regular lovely followers will know that I like to help with dementia awareness and this week it is Dementia Action Week. An extract from one of my articles follows:-
Benefits of communication for people with dementia
We are all aware of how dementia changes people’s lives and those around them. I won’t talk about worrying statistics but what I can recommend is seeking as much help and advice as possible. Sadly for those loved ones who might be the main carer they may just stumble upon a few leaflets in the doctor’s surgery but do not find time to explore just what is actually available. I thoroughly recommend carers, friends and family to contact The Alzheimer’s Society – leading the fight against dementia. Please check out their website as they have an amazing library of extremely useful literature which is readily accessible and free. www.alzheimers.org.uk.
My theme for a Christmas project 2017 was ‘Love, Kindness and understanding’ and I see these three ingredients as vital for helping those who are fighting this challenging and cruel disease on a daily basis.
The Alzheimer’s Society’s National Helpline is: 0300 222 1122
I am pleased to see so much media coverage recently about dementia awareness and the importance of support for the carers and family. This is a very cruel disease often stripping a loved one away beyond recognition.
Families who are bewildered by the challenge and naturally untrained to deal with the personality change in their loved ones are often left to struggle. Please, please seek help, look towards The Alzheimer’s and Dementia charities for valuable information and support.
Today we hear Barbara Windsor’s own personal fight has become public and fans will wish her and her husband well. It is a brave step but one which will raise the profile and highlight the ever increasing cases in the UK. I heard today one case is diagnosed every four minutes and of course many cases remain undiagnosed as patients put symptoms down to just the ageing process.
Here’s to all the carers out there today that give of themselves so tirelessly and devoted to those they love. It is important that partners/carers have respite and time to continue pursuits they enjoy too though many feel guilty if they do… unwarrantedly.
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.
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.
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:-
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.
I have had the great pleasure of working with dementia clients and their families and I am aware how difficult it is for family members to adust emotionally to the challenges this condition brings.
Discussing with family members we agree in a way it is like a mini bereavement as one watches the person we know, loved, and possibly depended on disappear in front of us.
My key advice is to seek support and make the effort to find out as much as you can to learn new ways of communicating. It helps to find small ways to react in different ways to situations to defuse rather than over react, it takes a great deal of love, patience and understanding. Bear in mind your loved one is living in a very frustrating and confusing world now and needs you more than ever.
There are of course dementia charities who have support groups locally and advice on hand to make the journey easier.
I have felt it a real privilege to work with clients with dementia and their families. Any caring profession carries a great deal of trust and as I discussed recently with a colleague staff are checked for suitability… we assume!
I am saddened and deeply so at the news today showing the filming of a carer slapping a lady with dementia who was left in her care. Where is the respect for a fellow human being and especially for somebody elderly and with such difficult challenges to face?
I am also alarmed at some of the actions of those working in nursing homes, again one assumes staff are trained to administer patience, caring and understanding under the umbrella of palliative care. For those that are vulnerable and sometimes too afraid to speak out, staff that bully and intimidate should be ashamed of themselves. If you cannot offer kindness then don’t work with the elderly.
This country really is failing our elderly – I know my generation were brought up to respect our elders – it’s a shame the government are not being more proactive in their policing of private nursing homes where it often appears that making a profit is higher up the priority than providing good care. Let’s face it the homes charge residents and their families a fortune weekly and for some families this is the only alternative when they can no longer cope with elderly parents with any disability.
Yes, I am ranting but we ignore these facts too readily…it’s just unacceptable! I acknowledge that there are some great nursing homes and dedicated staff running them but one resident being abused is one too many!