Keeping a routine going

In these difficult times it is quite hard for some people who may be used to a routine. Routines may be annoying for many but for some it forms a structure of normality and even comfort.

I recall when my family unit were going through a particular personal challenge our fabulous childminder reminded me to keep as much routine in my daughter’s life (then age 4) as possible.

My tip for today is, as crazy as it may seem, any type of routine we set ourselves rather than veg out in our pjys all day every day will really help with our well being.

Visiting two of my elderly clients earlier they have been really quite good at trying to replace all their previously enjoyed activities and break from each other…such as trips to the hairdressers, day centres, W.I. etc with various house and garden jobs then their afternoon walk.

We can learn an awful lot from the older generation who have already got being grateful for small things down to a fine art. It doesn’t take much to lift their spirits but I know everyone that is living at home alone really appreciates any interaction.

Please use that telephone as much as you can. Remember not everyone has an iphone and can face time those they love so a call to your Gran or elderly uncle or aunt will go a long way to breaking up their long day.

Stay safe, stay positive and keep well.

Storing stress

I often write how our body is like a balloon if we squeeze it in one place the air moves to another part. Stress invades our body in various ways and unless we make an effort to exercise, maybe practice yoga or find ways of relaxing and chilling then our body will respond…negatively.

Stress can affect us in many ways, neck ache, head aches, stomach issues and not to forget sleeping problems. I think I have always been pretty good at not holding onto stress and keeping relaxed by switching off by means of distraction. However, I too have had a few neck issues of late..too much time on the phone and at laptop doesn’t help.

Yesterday, although I had been massaging said neck and doing gentle exercises my daughter informed me I was moving my head like an owl when I turned to speak to her. This made us both laugh…and I always say laughter is the best tonic…but maybe just add a small measure of gin.

My message today is try not to let things consume you and enjoy what’s good in your own unit as best you can. I am certain we will all look back and have some good memories about the premium time we spent with loved ones whilst missing many others.

Personally I am looking forward to hugging all my family and having a very special with my new great nephew who I have yet to meet. However tough you may feel your own circumstances are there are many more especially the elderly that are finding it much tougher. I am off to do a very safe distance chat with two of my favourite old people.

Keeping positive

These are challenging times for everyone. With time on our hands and more time to think for many it will be a struggle emotionally. Keeping focused on things we enjoy and looking forward positively will help prevent feelings of hopelessness. This could be the time that you fall back in love with those neglected hobbies, open up those forgotten books and think seriously perhaps about learning a new skill.

Keep all communication lines open as I can assure you many people around you may be feeling just the same as you…we are all in this together and there has never been a better time to work on our relationships and share with loved ones

As my own amazing mentor and mother used to say ‘worrying about things will not change them’…and there has never been a truer piece of advice. Most of things we worry about never materialise.

If you are struggling, please talk to somebody, if you don’t feel comfortable talking to somebody close to you, there are many support charities with trained counsellors who will help you make sense of what you are feeling.

In my experience as a counsellor and life coach whatever may be the reason behind the way you are feeling it is always better to talk it through rather than store up your emotions. ‘Freud’s talking cure’ really does work.

Keep safe, keep positive and keep talking.

Taking for granted… the simple things

I know I am not alone in thinking just how much we take people and things for granted until… we miss them. Like the group of bell ringers at St Mary’s church.

When I moved to ‘the other side of the village’ I moved nearer to St Mary’s and soon was able to enjoy the sound of the church bells. Indeed, I recall now fondly how the Sunday morning calling bell used to wake up our chickens, how I would dash into the garden in my pjys to put them in the run to avoid ruining my neighbour’s Sunday lay ins.

I have got somewhat used to hearing my friend Pauline and her colleagues practising on a Tuesday evening as I work with my home students. So today I will dedicate this to Pauline and apologise for all the years that I have taken her skills for granted whilst selfishly enjoying the sounds of the bells ringing.

It is a simple thing I know but already I am missing that almost regimented sound which reminds us that the church is ‘open for business’ and things are as they should be….

I have no doubt  when it is appropriate the bells will be rung again to celebrate the end of lock down.

Care Workers in nursing homes

Working with the elderly is as equally rewarding as it is challenging we must salute the care workers meeting the corona virus head-on within our nursing homes. However, I am always mindful that in so many nursing homes they are often run short staffed and with a serious lack of fully trained staff. It is political, everything is, but speaking as somebody with family, friends and clients with loved ones in nursing homes my observations are honest and come from a point of caring for the residents and the staff.

Anybody who has stayed in a nursing home or has family in one know how expensive it is just for a week’s stay. My main gripe has to be that with an increased ageing population and the reality of the high people with dementia that these homes must have more financial support and proper independent policing. Staff must be fully trained and paid a decent hourly rate, with so many taking these roles as a vocation their dedication and endeavours must not go unrewarded and unsupported.

When having a discussion with a fellow colleague who helps deliver cognitive support in a nursing home we challenged why it is expected that so many people offering services should be volunteers? These homes are not charities they are businesses and making a lot of money for the various franchises that own them. I personally witnessed an independent home having been taking over by a franchise certainly experience a deterioration in the care and the quality of food and continually run by under-trained staff expected to run on shortage of staff -so no adhering to the safe ratio of staff to residents. To those family members I recommend visit often (not at the moment obviously) but in usual circumstances if you don’t you will not really be able to judge the level of care your loved one is receiving.

During the Corona virus we are seeing/hearing about clusters of deaths and great dedication of staff who are not considered as front line support when they so obviously are. My concern that staff are not necessarily trained in containment nursing for any bugs or viruses which is unsatisfactory and unsafe for residents and staff alike.

My plea would be that the government need to take a strong and focused look at how these nursing homes are run and not consider the elderly and the staff who look after them as second class citizens….they are not!

Learning something new

With the enforced situation so many people will find themselves with time on their hands and there really is only so much TV you can watch without feeling that perhaps you are wasting valuable time.

In my own situation where I cannot visit my elderly clients, although I am keeping in regular telephone contact and supporting as best I can two courses which I would have taken far longer to complete I can now devote more time to. This is part on my business on-going training and continued professional development both of which will no doubt enhance my skills and benefit my clients when I can finally get back to the front line of Dementia support.

I am sure I am not alone in recognising the benefit of being a mature student.  I hope that during this time, when many will reflect, that perhaps that skill they’ve always wanted to master can be achieved.  I am certain a lot of people will be re-thinking priorities, even a career change and distance learning is a great way to achieve this.

I am a great advocate for distance learning which can fit around the busiest of normal schedules. Over the past five years I have added several new qualifications to my CV and the interesting part being that during some sessions with clients I have been able to dip into all of them.

We are never too old to learn a new skill and it’s great to do something ‘just for you’. Additionally, reading and studying can be a great positive distraction from what is going on rather than continue to watch worrying and sometimes incorrect rolling news.



The Queen’s Speech

I sincerely hope those people that somehow have not been listening to the news with regard to the huge number of fatalities of Corona Virus, and, feel that the ‘stay at home’ or ‘keep your distance’ recommendations do not apply to them are going to wake up sooner rather than later.

In the past two days I have learned of a number of deaths of relatives of people I know and also have friends with family members struggling to work within the NHS. Please take the advice seriously it will affect you, your family and friends at some stage.

As a neighbour stated the other day it’s not as though the younger generation have been given a gun and sent into battle as our grandfather/parents did. They are just being asked to stay at home and be sensible and responsible when they do go out.

I loved the whole of our Queen’s speech but one sentence, for me, said it all:-

‘quiet good humoured resolve…’

With the various forms of modern media nobody is in complete isolation or unable to keep in touch with friends and family. Stay home, your selfish actions will harm others and maybe yourself…get with it!


The importance of a hug

We all may have taken for granted the simple pleasures in life and now circumstances have changed that suddenly we can no longer hug friends or family… that we may see from a distance. No less than three people have told me today how they miss hugging their loved ones.

In our house we have ‘huggles‘ which was one of my word mix ups which is basically a cross between a hug and a cuddle, and, I am fortunate that I have my daughter sharing my isolation so we can still hug.

I am aware that it is not just us women that like to hug lots of men do too, though some would never admit it. Speaking this week to several recently bereaved people there was one common denominator in that they were all unable to receive a hug and/or give one to support a family member going through bereavement.

One of my lovely neighbours (we always hug) and I agreed we were saving up a really big hug, whilst another I had offered a spiritual hug wished me one back over the fence.

I know I am really lucky that I have great friends and a lovely family and live in a village where people actually care and help one another. As I said to another friend today –‘If we pull together and stay positive we will get the other side bigger and stronger.’ I truly believe this to be the case, though this mantra may be hard to apply all day every day but we can at least try.

Maybe now is the time to start visualisation tactics and imagine that hug…I’m sending out a huge one to all those that need it….get ready here it comes.

…….Aww that feels so much better.

Classic songs..emotional times…get reading

So sadly we have lost another great man of soul. Bill Withers died yesterday and his songs were part of our lives and will continue to be so. His well-known numbers were covered by so many artists too.

‘Lean on me‘ such a poignant song with lyrics never truer than at times like now. I am mindful that so many people will be struggling, and many, either alone or perhaps in silence. We must find somebody to ‘lean on’ as Freud famously stated the talking cure:-

‘The purpose to change hysterical misery into ordinary human unhappiness’.

So as ever I will say give your partner/friend/children that platform opportunity to talk and of course make use of any help lines available dependent on your particular ‘unhappiness’.

We must spare a thought (and for those who pray ) and prayer for the elderly that live alone and for young people, perhaps teenagers already struggling with emotional issues.

For children whose lives and routines have been drastically changed it can be very frightening and as parents we have to do our best to balance the importance of isolation without allowing them to be consumed and become frightened.

Reading can be a great escapism into another world, one that is more fun and we could all do a lot worse than pick up a favourite book and read it again.  David Walliams of course would be a great distraction…but I must return to my coursework.

Sweet memories

Our star neighbour came up trumps yesterday by leaving a box of children’s favourite sweeties on our doorstep. I felt eight again and the aroma as I lifted the box  lid was an instant trip down memory lane.

I often talk about how the senses unlock memories which can bring such joy when they do. I use these triggers when working with my lovely dementia clients which opens up pleasant discussions as they recall happy times in their life and/or their childhood.

Of course it’s not just our sense of smell, it’s all the senses including touch. Only this morning I wrapped a towel around me which had been next to the radiator and the immediate feeling of softness and warmth transposed me back to how my own mother would get warm towels out of the airing cupboard which housed our water tank. There was always something comforting in a warm towel and of course a parent’s embrace as they helped you dry yourself.

Such simple pleasures yet beautiful memories. Times like we find ourselves in now the little gestures of kindness and savouring our own simple pleasures help the day to feel special in it’s own way.

I am reminded by how my own mother talked about the way people treated each other in the second world war. She said ‘nothing could beat the comrade of those times’…in a small way maybe some of us will witness this and make the effort to extend acts of kindness to brighten the lives of others.