Musical Tea – 13th October 2020

Today we returned to those particular tunes which have a special meaning for each of us. When we hear them they spark emotions, memories, and the urge to start singing. They are the Soundtrack to our Lives.

Music is neurologically special in the way that it stimulates many parts of the brain at once. Listening to your Playlist can have a very positive impact on you. Find out more about Playlist for Life on their website here. You may develop your own Playlist by following this simple guide.

And what better way to get into the groove, than by holding a Musical Tea?

Peter Butterworth, our Local Organiser for Playlist for Life, gave us an overview of Playlist for Life and invited us to create our own.

Peter recommended we look at the resources on the Playlist site here and specifically their 100 years of tunes. You can download individual decades for free. Putting together a Playlist is fun and playing it can help calm us in stressful times. Peter has offered to help with advice on putting a Playlist together. If you want to contact Peter, please let us know.

We had a series of polls which prompted a lot of discussion and memories of days gone bye. Old TV themes led onto old TV programmes (you can still see many of them on the ‘Talking Pictures TV‘ channel on Freeview). The people who come up with TV adverts would have been pleased that we remembered so many.

Janet’s tea & cake

Everyone was busy joining in, but some of us managed to spare time for some tea and cake, as befits a Musical Tea.

In a break from the normal quiz format, I introduced a musical picture quiz. We had some very high scores and I managed 17/17 (but then, I had set the questions).

Janet’s quiz gave us the first line of a classic song, we had to come up with the next line. We also attempted to identify the singer/group. A much more testing quiz than mine.

Pearl’s penguins went for a spin:

Gyda’s homework is very popular with some of the keener members of the group. David has his Christmas present assembly line running!

This week Gyda’s craft was making a musical shaker.

David’s homework

Pearl insisted we sing some up-beat songs, including YMCA. We were pleased to see lots of singing and dancing.

We had more singing later with Tony’s version of “3 little birds”.

Gyda introduced a: “Wonderful vessel”:

We look forward to the return of some more of our usual features next time – if we can fit them into the packed programme!

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Carers Group: 13/10/20

We had a very good chat this evening about a wide variety of subjects and managed to avoid talking about any announcements by the Prime Minister (for most of the time).

The Alzheimer’s Society report: ‘Worst hit: dementia during coronavirus’

Peter gave a summary of the report. You can find the report (and links to background information) here on the Society’s web site. The Society states “Since coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown on 23 March, an Alzheimer’s Society investigation has discovered family and friends have spent an extra 92 million hours caring for loved ones with dementia, due to the double whammy of lockdown making dementia symptoms worse, and the chronically underfunded social care system leaving them nowhere else to turn. “

The group recognised many of the issues highlighted. We have regularly discussed the effect of the current restrictions on the mental health of carers. While our members welcomed the Society’s recommendations there were reservations about the influence the Society might have on the government. There was also a view that people with dementia and their carers had disappeared from the government’s list of priorities.

Dementia Carers Count training

One of the group had been on a free training event with Dementia Carers Count and recommended that others have a look at what was on offer. We had previously had a good report on this training from another member of the group here. You can find out more information about Dementia Carers Count, their training events and annual conference here.

Visiting a care home

The pandemic rules are changing on a regular basis, so care homes have to change their arrangements, often at short notice. We were told about the experience with one home. It had now gone into ‘Pro Active Lockdown’. The result was that visits were restricted to one person outside the home seeing their loved one through a window and speaking via a telephone. Visitors were also not expected to travel by public transport so as to avoid the additional risks. From 16 October the home intended to use a ‘visiting suite’ – this is a room with a floor to ceiling perspex screen and an intercom system for speaking. Our group member intended to visit on the Friday, so we look forward to a report next time.

Case reviews

Sometimes care homes seemed to run without input on the care of their residents from loved ones. What should happen is regular case reviews. Tatiana advised members to be assertive with care homes to ensure that reviews were carried out, with input from all the appropriate people.

Where does it hurt?

When we have a pain, we generally have an idea of the cause. When you have dementia, making the link may be more difficult. A carer said his sister was resistant to taking her medication and reluctant to having a flu jab. She had a pain in her side which she thought might be caused/made worse by meds or jabs. The brother noticed her pulling a very heavy trolly up stairs after a shopping trip. The pain was on the same side as the straining to pull up the trolly. The brother was wary of getting into a protracted discussion about cause and effect. He also didn’t want to return to a discussion about his sister getting a new mobile phone. As he put it; “I haven’t got the fight at the moment”.

Avoiding potential problems

A carer said that she found that shop assistants often helped her by saying that an expensive item her mum wanted to buy was currently on-order or out of stock. This avoided an argument about buying something that the daughter considered unnecessary and/or too expensive. In effect the message was not a ‘No’ or ‘Yes’, but ‘Later’. As mum generally moved on and forgot about the item she had wanted, the issue was deflected.

Places to visit

The group had been taking opportunities to get out in the fresh air. Indoor places to visit were more of a problem. Janet said The Carers Centre seemed to have a very good approach to risk management. You can see more on their website, including a video tour of the premises, here. A carer said that Danson House (in Danson Park) did an impressive afternoon tea, photos and information here.

Not getting caught short

Not everyone is keen to talk about toilet troubles. We had a short discussion about incontinence products and free products on prescription – more information is on the NHS website here. Several members spoke positively about Tena products – their website is here.

Queuing to watch TV

What should you do when you want to watch TV in your living room, but the room is full of people and you have to wait for up to an hour to get a seat? If you have dementia with Lewy bodies you may well have recurrent visual hallucinations – this can include seeing people who are not there. Carers can help dispel the confusion, but left alone an individual can have considerable problems coping.

As usual, our members were mutually supportive, full of anecdotes and ideas. In difficult times it is encouraging to meet some of the people have recently “spent 92 million extra hours caring for loved ones with dementia”.

2020 Positivity – 6th October 2020

This week we were being positive about 2020 – and we found much to chat about – from the joy of exercise, saying hello to people when out and about, playing on-line games with others, gardening, walking, to Zoom meetings.

Gyda shared information about Nordic Walking. Lynne was keen to find out more and Chrissie provided more background and encouragement. We have a fit group!

Gyda’s craft this week was creating a mandala. The simple steps led us towards more intricate designs and colour. Our homework will be interesting – come back next week for the technicolour mandalas…

David told us to: “Think positive, be positive, don’t give in to gloom”:

Everyone was feeling positive, but it was joke time and Pearl was not with us. Would Janet make the grade?

Lucky Janet had a choice of jokes. Here is a short one and a longer one:

Lynne’s quiz was especially difficult, with scores mainly under 5/10. To perk us up, we sang along to “Accentuate the positive” and “Happy talk”. There was plenty of dancing and singing.

Gerry advised us to: “Stay positive”

More singing followed with Tony’s version of “3 little birds”.

Gyda suggested we: “Learn to wait”:

With neighbours calling, appointments etc. some group members slipped away slightly early.

For the remaining Zoomers, we still had to end before part two of Lynne’s quiz due to another overrun. Gerry thought we should go for quiz part 2, but the rest of us needed a cup of tea…

Next week is our Playlist for Life Musical Tea. You may see last year’s Reflections event here and the PfL website is here.

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Myths and Superstitions – 29th September 2020

You may now nominate Reflections as your charity when you buy items on Amazon. Click here for more information. It does not cost you (or the retailer) anything and Reflections will receive 0.5% of what you spend.

We had our fingers crossed for a good session about superstitions. There was a steady stream of people joining us, with a total of “lucky 13”, plus our plucky volunteers. Touch wood no one was stressed by the tricky quiz from Janet covering myths and superstitions from around the world. There was some debate about whether a black cat was lucky or unlucky – we couldn’t agree, so we moved on.

David gave us “Myths and legends”:

Our knowledgable group pointed out that many myths originated with the Egyptians. Oddly, many people are not aware that Egypt is a country in Africa. We had a couple of superstitions from other countries. From Turkey, Gyda informed us a husband will know if his wife is unfaithful, as he will grow horns. Danny told us. in Estonia, it is unlucky to whistle in the house.

Pearl was back with some banging jokes. :

Pearl gave us three suitable songs: “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder. “Tie a yellow ribbon”, by Tony Orlando. And “Dorothy the dinosaur” especially for Dot. I think Dot was pleased.

Gerry (a man with 3 lucky horseshoes) told us about “Superstitions”

We sang-a-long to “Amarillo” and “3 little birds”.

Janet (check out the £2 hairstyle) stepped-in with Gyda’s text: “Each second is a jewel”:

And finally…

David had been busy with his homework. Here is the extended family efforts to build theatres.

Adrian produced his lucky charm. He was not sure how much luck it had brought him!

Culture – 22nd September 2020

As Boris announced yet more measures to tackle the pandemic, we had a jolly time with friends on Zoom.

We chatted about events we had been to and those we would like to go to and see in the future.

There was a mix of preferences and experiences. Danny had been to many shows, but mainly to be with his girlfriend rather than to see the performance. Others had enjoyed musicals and plays such as The Mousetrap. Roxana had not been to anything of note.

Gyda continues to help us develop our construction crafts. As the architectural student, Danny might have some observations.

David showed us the florist stall he had finished as his homework. Mary was keen to follow Gyda’s guidance to produce a theatre this week.

No Pearl today, so Janet told some jokes instead. Here is a smelly one:

Lynne gave us another very testing quiz. Fortunately, there were lots of clues to each question, so I managed to get a few right.

Gerry took us to “Live theatre”

This week Gyda introduced us to a relaxation technique.

A muscle relaxing exercise:

We all felt better for a little stretching.

Dot and Jen seemed to be having a good afternoon.

We had a couple of surprise guests to finish off the session.

Markets – 15th September 2020

A hot afternoon and a good turn-out for the group. There were a lot of memories of favourite markets, some now long gone. Pettycoat Lane was popular, as was Greenwich market. We had one vote for Coventry market (from Danny, who was joining us from Coventry!).

We also talked about Christmas markets. Cologne was recommended by those that had visited it. Odd to be talking about Christmas just as the hot weather had returned

Janice made a welcome return to Reflections. It was her first time with out online group and she said how much she enjoyed it. She told us about the Carers Centre reopening and all the work that had been done to make it as safe as they could. David had visited and recommended others do the same.

Detail of the Carers Centre here.

Janet had come up with this memory of a market nursery rhyme: “To market, to market to buy a fat pig – Home again, home again, jiggety-jig – To market, to market, to buy a fat hog – Home again, home again, jiggety-jog – To market, to market, to buy a plum cake – Home again, home again, market is late – To market, to market, to buy a plum bun – Home again, home again, market is done – To market, to market, a gallop a trot – To buy some meat to put in the pot – Three pence a quarter, a groat a side – If it hadn’t been killed it must have died.” How many of us have a groat in our purse/wallet?

Gyda guided us through the making of a market stall from card or paper. There was a lot of enthusiastic folding and cutting. Our keen builders took away their creations to finish later.

Pearl’s two jokes for the price of one:

Pearl is taking a break next week, but she gave us her own name tune this week “Pearl’s a Singer“, by Ellie Brooks.

David read us another epic poem he had written – this one about markets:

As the afternoon warmed-up, several people moved into their gardens. Danny led the way.

We were relaxed as usual. People popped-in and popped-out through the session.

Gerry took us to “The local market”

Janet reminded us that we usually have an annual visit from the Pearly Kings and Queens. As we are on Zoom, we had to make-do with Janet’s quiz about cockney rhyming slang.

Lynne’s quiz was another good test. I got question one right, then I went a bit downhill.

Gyda spoke to us about: “Letting go of urgency”:

Next time the theme is concerts/theatre/events we have enjoyed.

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)’.


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.

Autumn – 8th September 2020

The evenings are getting darker earlier. There is a bit of a chill. I found a long-sleeve shirt, just for this afternoon. Roxana told us she has put her heating on (but she says she is still wearing shorts!).

The group said they enjoyed the crisp mornings and cosy fires in the autumn. They were also looking forward to getting out and about more as lock-down eases.

The polls had everyone thinking.

Janet led a discussion about how and when we might return to face-to-face group meetings. While some people were willing to consider coming together, there were concerns about how safe it would be. We will keep reviewing the options and proceed with caution.

Gyda had a fun craft – making a leaf out of paper and decorating it. We were invited to do some homework and bring back our leaf collections next week. Gyda also asked if members had any ideas for future crafts… watch this space.

Pearl showed us her knitting and came up with a property joke:

Pearl also gave us three songs including “Jenifer Juniper”, by Donovan – dedicated to Jen. Three of the volunteers had seen Donovan performing in 2016. His singing voice may have suffered a bit, but his stories from the 1960s were fascinating.

David read us another of his poems this one about Autumn:

David, as ever, had just the paintings to reflect the theme of the day.

David’s walls are covered in his excellent work.

Gerry’s internet had gone wibbly last week and we missed his transport poem. So, this week we had a double bubble: “Transport”

and a “Picture of Autumn”:

Janet had a quiz about Autumn. The questions had been set by Australians. There was some discussion about the accuracy of some of the official answers. The main point of disagreement was about what Americans call football – Lyne and Pearl became quite animated!

Gyda led us in a hand exercises:

and an Autumn reflection:

It looks like we will be practicing our hand exercises over the coming weeks.

Next time, as suggested, we will be looking at ‘Markets’.

Transport – 1st September 2020

Gondola, cruise ship, balloon, Concorde? Our poll told us that 58% of members would like a trip on the Orient Express. Sounds like we could have a group outing (when we win the lottery).

Gerry explained that a crash in a balloon expedition, prior to the invention of mobile phones, led to a long wait for rescue! Fortunately, when it happened, no one was injured – and they got some nice photos.

Gyda returned with a paper balloon craft. Danny had just returned to England in time to produce the best balloon.

Pearl had a great tune for our person-of-the-day – Danny. We sang along to “Daniel” by Elton John. Danny was relieved it wasn’t the usual – “Danny Boy”.

Pearl presented a musical joke:

Pearl led the singing of “

Pearl also led the singing of “The big ship sails on the alley-alley-o”.

David read his epic poem on “Transport”:

Janet had another tricky quiz. We did better guessing the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ than the ‘Seven Virtues’. Adrian managed to answer the most obscure question “Who starred in the 1961 movie ‘Come September’ – for the answer, see below…

Gyda also spoke about transport:

Sharon told us about the Carers Centre cafe reopening on 7th September. She recommended anyone interested in popping down (and people were keen to go) should phone-up just before opening to get the final details of what was on offer and how social distancing will be managed.

Another good session and lots of jolly Zoomers. The answer to “Who starred in the 1961 movie ‘Come September’ was, of course, Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobri

Clothes and fashion – 25th August 2020

Style returned to the Friendship Group.

We asked which was the most stylish decade for fashion. The 1950s beat the 60s and 70s.

50s style, 60s pop, 70s mistakes

Everyone went off for chats in smaller groups. The conversations included revelations of who had worn mini-skirts and other fashion statements (like tank-tops and canary yellow flared trousers).

Gyda was not with us this week. She would have been very pleased that David had done his homework and produced these pirate friendly parrots.

Pearl’s tune for a member of the group was “Come on Aileen (Eileen)” (by Dexy’s Midnight Runners). It was good to have Aileen back with us and she would have been pleased with the song, but her audio wasn’t working. We did our best by singing and dancing along.

Pearl joked about drinks and a lift:

Pearl never disappoints! She had us singing along to “Dedicated follower of fashion” and “Blue suede shoes”.

Gerry gave us “Things people wear – from A to Z”:

Janet had a quiz about hats.

Although Gyda wasn’t with us she sent a reading called “Live your own life”, which was read by Janet:

Roxana told us the weather, where she was, in Romania was 35 degrees. We told her it was cooler and very windy here. She said she was not sure what to do with all the summer dresses she had bought for her return here. Life can be tough.

Next time we are looking at transport.