Carers Group: 14/9/20

This month the members were a little slow in arriving at the group. Once we got into the swing of things there was eight of us chatting away.

Places to visit

Janet gave an update on The Greenwich Carers Centre, Age Exchange and Shrewsbury House. The Carers Centre and Age Exchange had been represented at the recent Greenwich Dementia Action Group meeting and reported on their extensive work prior to their reopening. Both are using temperature “guns” to check visitors. Shrewsbury House has also completed work to make visitors as safe as they could (although they do not use a temperature checker).

Dementia Adventure: Online training session

Peter introduced the group to Dementia Adventure, a charity which aims to help people with dementia and their carers get outdoors and retain their sense of adventure. They also run on-line interactive sessions which explain dementias and their impact in an interesting and engaging way. Peter showed some of the pictures they used in their presentation.

If you want to know more about Dementia Adventure’s work click here

Their graphics illustrated the presentation. Here they explained how initially people can cope with a lot on their “noticeboard”. As their dementia progresses they can cope with fewer items. Later they may be able to process only one thing at a time.

Dementia Adventure works to maximise the benefits of nature for those with dementia and their carers.

Carers caring for themselves

From the start of this evening’s session we discussed the breaks that many of the group had arranged and the benefits of getting away and relaxing for a while. The destinations ranged from Wales to Kefalonia. Even though we tend to remain in contact with home, no matter where we are, a break can make a big difference to your state of mind.

Insights from The Alzheimer’s Show

A member told us she had rather a lot of spare time recently and had watched many of the Show’s webinars. There was much of interest – one example being the issue of inheritance tax and the possibility of changing someone’s Will up to two years after they died. You may read more about this on the McClure solicitors website’s section on ‘The Gift of Hindsight’ here.

This member also told us about a reassuring section of a presentation which said that “pacing up and down” and “wandering” were very normal for people with dementia. Our member knew this, but had been unhappy with her mum’s care home when they said that this was disruptive and that her mother might need sedation or a move to another care home that could cope with her behaviour. Fortunately, the care home manager had changed and the new one did indeed consider mum’s behaviour normal and not a cause for concern or action. Further confirmation was very reassuring.

Some of the Alzheimer’s Show’s webinars, including the one from the McClure solicitors, are still available to see on their Digital Hub here.

Take a moment to pause

Two people said they had notes on their phone to help them when life (and their mums) became a bit too much to cope with. One had: ’10 things not to say to someone with dementia’ (example here). The other had a note for when she was angry: ‘ Who suffers from my behaviour? (everyone), who benefits from my behaviour (no one)’.

Pressure

Lock-down, caring for a loved one (or more than one), covid, health problems, financial problems – the list goes on and stress and pressure tends to increase. A member said that she, and her family, had noticed that she had started to act in a way that was likely to affect her health. We talked about mental health issues which have been affecting many people in these strange time. Lack of social interaction, little exercise, starting to eat and/or drink more were all issues that resonated with the group.

We discussed what could be done. Inviting others, including family members, to help in caring could have benefits for everyone involved. Asking someone to have a role in care gives them a purpose and a feeling of being needed – something that may have disappeared recently, particularly if they have become isolated. You may have become stuck with a view of how life is panning-out. Changing your perspective, and the perspective of those around you, may be a challenge but can help you and others to break out of a rut.

If you are having difficulty it is always worth seeking out help from your GP or other health professional.

More pressure

A wait for a family member’s (not dementia related) diagnosis had stressed-out one of our Zoomers. The results had been good and the stress eased. Her husband (who has dementia) had not been able to go on the long walks he liked, due to need to keep safe from infection. This had been stressful. Now, due in part to the lack of exercise, he was not physically able to go on long walks. Our member had managed to go on a break. The husband stayed at home, with their daughter moving-in to care. The wife phoned every day and had the same conversation with her husband. It was only during the break that our member realised how much she needed to have a break.

Good news in the post

A wedding abroad cancelled, the airline cancelling the flights, freelance work drying up – what is the solution? Try something new. In this case – become a postman (post-person?). Our member had started her new job. This is completely different, working for someone, getting lots of exercise and fresh air – and doing something useful. She was smiling and looked like the change was doing her a lot of good.

Even when things go wrong, others can cope

What happens when your loved one is ill when you are away? We were give a good example – the people untrusted to care did the right thing and the arrangements made all worked well. Our carer was reassured and less stressed.

Finally, a carer told us about how well her regular carers we doing in looking after her mum. ‘They are fantastic!’

So good to end on another positive note.

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