Carers Group: 3/8/20

This month the group took the opportunity to meet in the first week of August. We welcomed a new member, who raised some interesting issues.

The Alzheimer’s Show

Janet and I have been watching, and taking part in, the Show’s webinars. The presenters and subjects have varied, but the quality of the sessions has been consistently high. We recommend watching the upcoming webinars or seeing the recordings of those that have passed. More information on the Show’s Digital Hub here.

At today’s Carers Group I presented a short summary of one of the webinars. This one covered the clinical trial being set up by St Pancras Clinical research. They are looking at how treating gum disease appears to have a direct impact on memory improvements for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

If you are interested in finding out more about the trial there is an online application form here.

Quiz question

What happened on 29th April 2011? (Answer later in this blog).

Visiting Care Homes during Covid-19 restrictions

The group’s new member told us about her concerns when recently visiting a relative in a care home. The staff were not wearing PPE or even masks. She asked why there was a lack of protective equipment and the reply was that: staff could not be expected to work for a whole day wearing a mask. Other group members told us about the differing approaches taken by care homes they had visited or had been told about. The differences seem to arise from the government issuing “recommendations“, which care homes then need to interpret for their circumstances. The government recommendations are here. You can read Unison’s views here.

Where’s my money?

We all get anxious at times and money worries are a common cause. For those with dementia, difficulties with memory can push money worries to the front of the mind. A member said her mum wanted her pension in cash. She had tried to explain that some of this money was needed to pay bills and that, as mum wasn’t going out, she didn’t need money. Mum still asked for her money and could become confrontational. The daughter had found money hidden away in a variety places around the house – mum’s purse was empty and she could not remember putting money “somewhere safe”. We had a discussion and other members said they had experienced similar issues. In this example the father had always (for over 60 years) managed the couple’s money and mum had been given a weekly amount. A routine of this length of time would be difficult to change, but dad had died recently and the joint income had dropped, so some change was necessary.

Two suggestions came up: recycling money, by giving it, finding where it had been hidden, and using this money when mum demanded her pension; or giving less money, but in smaller denomination notes (plus change) – thus making it appear to be a more substantial amount of money. Later in the discussions, another option came up – a dad regularly asked about income and outgoings and the family’s solution was to have bank statements to hand. This fitted-in with dad’s approach to money management and he was content.

The same mum had said that a workman had stolen a large amount of money from the house. The daughter thought this very unlikely, as the family had known the workman for years and considered him trustworthy. There remained a doubt, until the money was found hidden away some weeks later. Tatiana said that if the daughter had any concerns about financial abuse, then she should contact social services – they would be able to offer support and advise if any further action should be taken

Laptop in a trolly

A member’s sister is keen on electrical gadgets. She had considered buying a new smartphone, but had been dissuaded, as she agreed her current mobile met her needs (and because she didn’t answer phone calls, and regularly turned it off). She was slightly paranoid and concerned about the security of he laptop. As a result, she had started taking it out with her, in her shopping trolly, when she went out for a walk. Her brother had suggested this wasn’t a good idea, so she isn’t talking to him at the moment!

Greenwich council: Changes to Adult Social Care Funding

Greenwich council’s finances have been under pressure for some time. They had intended to announce changes to funding just as the pandemic hit us. After a pause, they are now sending out letters to those who will be affected by the changes. You can read an example letter from the council about funding here.

Carpets

A dad had been managing quite well during lockdown. Issues had caused concern previously when he was out and about, but recently he had hadn’t been out or about, so these problems hadn’t arisen. There was a short period when he had become disorientated, paranoid, and had refused to take his medication. This was due the upheaval caused by a major programme of carpet replacement in the house where he lived with his family. Fortunately, when the carpets were laid and the furniture moved back, life returned to a state of equilibrium.

Pictures evoking memories

Janet brought up a tip from another Alzheimer’s Show webinar: text or words can mean little to some people with dementia – whereas a picture (working on a different part of the brain) may immediately bring up an emotional response and possibly recall of an event. The quiz question above might not have struck a chord, but this picture might…

Using a photo or a picture as a visual aid can help in a variety of situations. If you ask someone with dementia if they would like beans on toast or a sandwich, they might have difficulty understanding the options. If, as well as asking them, you showed a picture of both meals, they might recognise what was being offered and be able to make a decision.

A group member – who had been a professional photographer – had used this idea to produce memory books for her mum. The books tell stories of particular times and places, and are very popular with mum. They always started a conversation about the past – well worth a try

There was some good news – two of the carers had managed to arrange breaks and were going away (not together). We look forward to a full update.

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