Carers’ Group: 10th December

On a cold night at Shrewsbury House, we were pleased to welcome three new members to the group. Each member had the opportunity to discuss an issue that was affecting them. As usual there was a wide ranging and lively discussion.

We started with the issue of anxiety for someone with dementia. The example was of someone continually saying they wanted to go home (even though they were in their current home). Some tips are here.

A member commented again on the enjoyment her mum had found in participating in an intergenerational group – the rather young paired with the rather old. The BBC have recently looked at this in ‘The Toddlers Who Took on Dementia’ see here.

A new member told us about the successful work of arts groups with people with dementia. She referred to the Wellcome Trust’s work ‘Created Out of Mind: shaping perceptions of dementia’ They say: “We aim to reaffirm the value of people living with dementias and their individual experiences. Taking the lead from conversations with people who have dementia, we want to enrich current perceptions and representations of their experiences. And we want to demonstrate the power of the arts in communicating the personal stories and scientific realities of dementia – a more powerful medium than any blood test, brain scan or histogram.” More information here. She also pointed out the work of Arts 4 Dementia. You can see more information here. We hope for more interesting input from this member, as she is studying for a PhD looking at how crafting can help carers and those they care for with dementia.

You might also be interested in an online course covering dementia and the arts, recommended by Angelika (the Greenwich  Dementia Action Coordinator). The UCL course is – ‘Dementia and the Arts: Sharing Practice, Developing Understanding and Enhancing Lives’ – more information here. The online host Future Learn (a private company owned by The Open University) offer a selection of on-line courses about dementia see more here

We heard from another new member about the work Age Exchange in Blackheath does with crafts. You can find out more about their services here.

Our discussions then moved onto behaviour that we may find difficult: anger, refusal to eat/drink/take pills, and aggression. For one carer difficulties had come about because her mother refused to cooperate with a physiotherapist. The issue seemed to be that the therapist wanted to visit in the morning and the mother was not a morning person. Our view was that the afternoon should be tried, as mum really would definitely benefit from some activity. Perhaps the physiotherapist could fit-in with the patient’s timetable, rather than vice-versa. The second example reminded us of a previous session. The individual was talking to ‘someone’ in the mirror, between the ‘two’, they were working ‘themselves’ up to the point of aggressive action. We discussed the need for a review with the specialists, as this sounds like a symptom of dementia with Lewy bodies. More information here.

We discussed the highs and lows of care homes. Fortunately, several of the group have had positive experiences with local care homes. While there is much to recommend, carers need to be mindful that choosing a good home can be difficult. A starter checklist is here.

At the end of the year we encouraged the group to look back and focus on the things that had gone well. It is too easy to concentrate on the negatives but, as we have found from our discussions, each group member has done so much to be proud of in their caring role.

We gave members a handout for ‘Coping at Christmas’ prepared by Tatiana, see here.

This was our last group for 2018 – we wish all our carers a peaceful Christmas.


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