Stroke Awareness

For many years I have tried whenever possible to help with stroke awareness through my writing and supporting stroke survivors. I often compare the feelings of having had a stroke to a mini-bereavement as the survivor and their family come to terms with maybe the loss of limbs and/or their speech and recovery can be a slow progress.

Stroke patients often suffer, understandably so, from depression too as any illness which is life-changing needs patience and supportive care. Having a positive attitude obviously helps but having to cope with challenges even temporary ones is no easy task.

I cannot recommend The Stroke Association enough their website gives easy access to great and practical literature. Other support charities and local support groups are brilliant so whether you are survivor yourself or helping a family member or friend in recovery then please ensure you seek the help that is available.

‘The Mail on Sunday‘ featured a great article written by Andrew Marr who suffered a serious stroke a few years back.  He is truly inspirational and his piece is very honest and reveals amazing treatment he received in the US which has increased his own spirits and his walking progress.


Thank God for engineers

Last night I watched the amazing ‘The Big Life Fix’ on BBC 2. Having worked with stroke patients I was so moved and impressed with the technology advancements and dedication of the engineers featured on this brilliant show as a team of engineers helped research and design tools to help a man with locked in syndrome improving his ability to communicate with his loved ones.

They also designed a fantastic bike for a young boy with disabilities enhancing his life beyond his dreams. They even managed to outwit sheep rustlers with great ideas for tagging sheep and narrowing down the opportunities for the farmers to lose their sheep to these crooks.

Can’t wait for next week’s show.

Stimulating memories

As part of my own on=going research into Alzheimer’s and Dementia I am reading through a colleague’s copy of an excellent toolkit to help understand and theory some of the symptoms and challenges those who suffer are meeting daily.

Yesterday, I decided to re-watch ‘ The Notebook‘ a beautiful love story about a husband’s dedication to help his wife through living with dementia. It is a well-loved and well-know creative piece and a weepie.

The husband never gives up on his wife and much to the disbelief of doctors she can play some music from memory. One line that always sticks with me (said emotively by the husband played by James Garner) in defence of his faith in her ability to remember and in defiance of the medics:-

‘Science only goes so far…then comes God’

In my own work wth dementia clients music is a great trigger for stimulating memories and encouraging a silent sufferer to beceome more vocal and happier.

Supporting Stroke Survivors

Having a stroke is a life changing experience both physically and mentally and having the right type of support and positive encouragement will enhance the survivor’s recovery journey and enhance their general well-being.

Regular followers know that I prefer and often refer to stroke victims as survivors as that is what they are. Strokes not only affect the elderly by the way that is a myth and sadly young people also experience them and aside of having to recover are often met with a negative response.

Having a stroke does not mean that one’s life is over and with the right support and positive advice and input recovery can be much faster than even some consultants will predict.

Later this month Coffee mornings are being held to raise awareness and funds so look out for them in your area and please attend. Alternatively consider making a donation to The Stroke Association who do amazing work.

Stay fit and healthy and remain positive…always.


Dementia Friends

When visiting my doctor’s surgery I always take a look at their information table, being a magpie I like to have leaflets available to help friends and colleagues.

Today I picked up a card promoting Dementia Friends and their trained volunteer champions who help in the community. If you know somebody who would benefit from their help please visit their website:- 

We have a growing population of people who suffer from Mild Cognitive Impairment or Dementia and being aware of what help is available is crucial for families in particular those partners who become main carers.

Finding time to relax

Life is one continual rush for most people  I meet and finding time for one’s self is so often put to the end of the list. It is not a crime to want mind space for yourself or to take time out to do something you enjoy.

I have been recovering from rather painful tooth abscess and extraction and was pleased to receive a great gift in the post. An adult colouring book!! I know I have teased many female friends and family members for indulging in this trend the past year or so…but I am now hooked.

For my screen break yesterday I coloured in a few very fine cats using my lovely coloured pencils bought for me by my daughter and it was a very calming and enjoyable session.My book also had little cat poems and thought provoking quotes.

I am currently working with and researching ways to help various clients in stroke recovery and/or dementia sufferers and I will be using this creative relaxer alongside my other sensory and reminiscence writing work.

So whether it be colouring in, listening to music of reading that book…just do it. Don’t feel guilty and be like me go the whole hog and eat a crunchie bar too.

Happy weekend fellow bloggers and followers.

Visiting nursing homes

I know a lot of families are faced with having to make the difficult decision of selecting the next sensible move for their elderly relatives. This may result in having to find the right nursing home which can seem very daunting.

I won’t turn today’s blog into an advice article but recently I was asked to visit a number of nursing homes with a friend who is faced with the dilemma of choosing somewhere suitable for a relative. The ultimate decision, where possible should of course involve the wishes and hopefully a visit beforehand by the proposed resident.

I have to say the three I visited were all very different but I was pleasantly surprised how welcome we were made and how staff made every effort to answer all my questions. It’s a really good idea to have somebody with you that is not so emotionally involved and able to be focused and objective.

I know some people are put off by the larger more modern homes but I was very impressed with the few I have visited the past year for one reason or another. The buildings are purpose built with superb en suite facilities and one even had a treatment room for the ladies to have their hair done and proper facilities for visiting chiropodist. These may seem unimportant facilities but they matter for those who will be unable to get out and about. New residents are properly assessed to ensure they receive the necessary support which may be dementia or stroke rehab related.

I have also been impressed by the many activities which are available to residents even in the smaller homes including sensory and reminiscence work. The sad picture some people may have in their minds of unhappy elderly folk sitting in a circle being ignored is far from the truth. Through my research I met some really dedicated and well-trained staff who genuinely care about the well-being of their residents and make every effort to bond with families too.

My tip is to visit as many as possible in your chosen area and don’t leave it until the last minute. As difficult as it is to talk about this with you relatives…please please do so and ensure you fully involve them. It is a well-known fact that parents do not want to feel a burden to their children and they will certainly try to hide just how vulnerable they feel.

My closing comment came from a manager at a very homely place who said she does everything she can to reassure her residents they are not a burden!

‘I remind them without them I wouldn’t have such a lovely job.’



Stroke Awareness

My regular followers will know I like to support the amazing Stroke Association with awareness. For anybody in recovery of a stroke or supporting a loved one during this difficult time please ensure you visit their website where you will find help,advice and resources which will enhance recovery and locate a support group in your area.

Another charity which I have mentioned within articles over the years is Interact Reading check out their website: a charity offering support including actors visiting hospital units reading to stroke patients.

I often compare having a stroke to a mini bereavement… remember the survivor may be mourning the loss of use of their limbs, their speech and their previously active life.

In recovering themselves they are also trying to be strong for those around them as well as coping and coming to terms with the shock and full impact of what has happened. They will be feeling vulnerable and scared so be patient and please, please  get support.

Stroke awareness…please sign the petition today

Bloggers and twitter  followers

Please support the Stroke Association and promote and sign the government petition. The stroke strategy comes to an end with no provision to replace it..sheer madness.

Please support this charity any way you can with donations and awareness they offer superb support to stroke survivors and their families.


Missing my dad…

Last night I watched the BBC program ‘Tank Heroes of WWII’. My father was in the Desert Rats a radio operator in the tank corps. He won several medals including one for saving their radio from a burning  tank. When one watches real footage of the second world war our eyes are peeled just hoping we get a glimpse of somebody we knew.

As this program revealed British tanks were tiny inside and nicknamed ‘tommy cookers’ a phrase I overheard my mother use many times when talking about Dad. It can’t have been pleasant spending days cooped up that way. Dad received a head wound in the D day Normandy landings and was separated from his fellow comrades and ending up with a Canadian platoon.

He was notified as missing in action and turned up many months later in a little French hospital and moved back home. He had many narrow escapes as did many but he was to come home to his wife, have five children before dying suddenly just age 44 and we have no way of knowing whether his head wound was a contributing factor to his death.

We were raised positively by our mother reminding us to live a day at a time and live it well as we never know what is around the next corner. Sadly we do not have many tales of his time in the forces as he did not approve of discussing what he had seen front of women and children. Let’s be honest it was the British Stiff Upper Lip attitude back then and those that suffered did so in silence without proper support.

I discuss my life without dad and bereavement of losing a parent within my forthcoming book ‘Dancing in my dreams’ currently with my publisher.

We did miss out not knowing our dad as a man just a provider mum was right when she said that to us. He gave the best part of his twenties for his country as did so many young men and far too many gave their lives.