Empty Spaces

Many years ago I published a fund raising publication raising funds and awareness for a cancer charity one of my lovely writers at that time donated a piece entitled ‘Empty Spaces’ which talked about the empty places at functions at his local cricket club as one by one his dear friends were gradually dying around him.

I am mindful that last weekend a lot of people will have experienced Father’s Day without their Dad, (myself included) and may have found the day difficult. I have heard it often said that grief is the price we end up paying for loving those we hold dear.

As I discussed over the weekend with a personal friend the intensity of our grief is related to the depth of the relationship we had with the family member or friend that has died. As usual, one of my positive reminders I like to share is to celebrate their life rather than focus on the way they died or what caused their death. I.e. Cancer, heart attack, stroke, a tragic accident and possibly suicide.

The time to tell those you love them is of course whilst they are here and you may just be saying it on a day that they really need to hear it and appreciate it. As always we keep those we love alive, in part, in our mind and in our hearts.


Dementia Action Week

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.

Something to offer

In my time of working with students of all ages and counselling I am constantly reminded that we are of course all different but we all have something good to offer. As students are put under pressure not just by their schools but often parents too I try to re-adjust the balance whenever I get an opportunity to say that we cannot all be academics or A* students but please do not write us off!

Similarly a fellow life coach and I acknowledge on a regular basis that anyone who is dyslexic is not ‘stupid’ as previously labelled as this challenge is in no way an indication of a person’s level of intelligence.  Personally speaking I really enjoy the challenge of helping those who are considered ‘different’ by society and often unkindly judged and misunderstood.

I was encourged as a child to ‘not mock the afflicted’ that may be considered now as non pc but the message behind came from my mentor and one who accepted and saw the good in everyone. If you look for the good in somebody you will find it…some hide it better than others of course. Remember what some perceive as being naughty is infact somebody with a brilliant mind who may be bored and/or has a personal challenge they may be in fear of revealing.

If you come across say somebody with a speech issue such as stammering, be patient, be kind and try to avoid finishing their sentences or words it just makes them more anxious. Bear in mind they may be recovering from a stroke and re-learning to speak all over again.

Let’s celebrate who we are and be more accepting of others around us.

Stroke awareness

I was pleased to see ‘Call the midwife’ this week featured a young mother who suffered a stroke. Any awareness is useful as knowledge is of course power in life. What a great deal of people do not realise is that strokes can happen at any age it’s not just the elderly. However, often elderly people may suffer a slight stroke (TIA) in their sleep and on waking just feel ‘unwell’.

Our family are stroke aware as we lost our Dad age just 44 to a massive cerebral haemorrage. I also had a slight stroke in my early forties though cause was never discovered.  I do as much as I can to raise awareness with stroke symptoms and just as importantly the stroke charities which do such great work supporting stroke suvivors and their families.

The Stroke Association have local support groups and quality information which can prove so useful when having to meet and discuss your situation with medics. Please visit their website:-



Abusing trust

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!

Xmas Tree Festival

St Saviour’s Tree Festival is in full swing. I visited Sunday to see all the amazing trees decorated and sponsored by local charities and organisations.

This year there are two lovely memory trees where one can add a message in memory of a loved one lost. As we know it is a times like Christmas when we may be missing and remembering somebody we have lost this year. As I often post bereavement is not an overnight process and for those mourning the pressure to feel happy and festive can be overwhelming. For those who may have nursed a loved one with cancer the bereavement journey can be a complicated one with delayed grief mixed with feelings of relief that a loved one is no longer suffering.

Stroke Association

For any of my followers who may be recovering from a stroke or caring and supporting a family member of friend who has then please visit The Stroke Association’s website.

Having a stroke is extremely difficult emotionally as well as physically and this amazing charity has great support and information available.

Recovery really can be a step at a time, a day at a time, and, survivors need patience, positivity, love and understanding.

Stroke Awareness

Following on from yesterday’s blog dear followers and fellow bloggers keep healthy aside of feeling good, having more energy and looking better you will cut down the risk of heart attack and strokes.

Preventative rather than cure always works for me. If your blood pressure is high, get it checked, if you are having headaches or breathlessness see the GP ; doesn’t mean you have anything sinister going on but they can be signs of a slight adjustment in diet or health style may be called for.

I know my consultant said if he had his way he would have everyone on Asprin a day in their 40’s and, as medical opinion continue to report, it can be a real health benefit.

The most important thing is if you suspect somebody is having a stroke ring 999 the quicker they get help the more of the person you can save and that’s a fact. On a more positive note people do recover from strokes, some fully.

I remember one of our guinea pigs had a stroke and the vet we saw wanted to put him to sleep…I said no! Having had a stroke myself I wasn’t written off so why should he be! With a great deal of tlc, massage and love he recovered. Though his head was on a slight slant but we agreed it just made him look cuter..he lived a long time after.



Stroke Awareness

Whilst supportign the various awareness days and weeks I am neglecting one of my mine awareness campaigns which is of course Strokes.

Over the years I have written many articles on this subject as many people believe that strokes are just happening to the elderly. A stroke can happen at any age and we should all endeavour to keep fit and healthy to cut down the risk factors.

However, many people never find the cause of their stroke and I include myself in that category at the tender age of 43 I could not tick any of the boxes normally associated with strokes.

Equally as important is everyone being aware of the signs to look for to help a loved one to be treated quickly; we have all seen the FAST campaign by The Stroke Association, Face, Arms and Speech..time to call 999.

For anyone recovering from a stroke there is amazing information and support avialable from The Stroke Association’s website but try to keep positive recovery is always enhanced by a positive mind.

Kindness and patience is required remember for Stroke Survivors losing the use of speech or limbs even temporarily is like a mini-bereavement and a very frightening time.

Good news for a change

I have been off line for a few days knee deep in admin, accounts but also enjoying working with my clients and hopefully making a difference to those in need of support.

Let’s face it there has been nothing but sad news of late but isn’t it great when we learn that within the medical profession they are making great in-roads into research and advance technology for stroke survivors.

It is no secret that time is of the essence in terms of getting the right help and quickly to anyone having a stroke and The Stroke Association regularly roll out the FAST adverts:

Face, Arms, Speech…time to call an ambulance.

This week we hear more about the ground-breaking operation a mechanical thrombectomy which can make a real difference but it has to be performed within six hours.

As with most charities awareness is as vital as the actual fundraising and I cannot recommend The Stroke Association enough -great support and amazing information to help both the stroke survivor and their carers. So if you are thinking of a new charity to support this is one to consider.

To anyone supporting a loved one who has recently had a stroke remember for many it is like a mini-bereavement, as they try to come to terms with the loss, maybe temporary or longer term of the loss of use of their limbs or speech. Keeping their spirits positive is vital and being informed will help both them and you –The Stroke Association can do this.