Mothers – 9th March 2021

Everyone had their thoughts on today’s theme.

Janet couldn’t vote, but she would have picked “Something funny” – her mum playing drums – to everyone’s surprise, while on holiday.

  • L – played with her mum’s jewellery, rouge and lippy.
  • M – her Mother was a brilliant accordion player and she liked poetry.
  • A – his mum taught him to cook and bake cakes.
  • P – recalls a trip to Ramsgate on a train with the tent loaded on a pram.
  • J – her Mother made toffee apples and toffee onions for prizes on camping holiday sports.
  • P – showed a photo of her mother aged about 75 playing the piano.
  • M – her mum was a knitter. 
  • C – said her mum always stuck up for her (even when faced with a motorcycle gang).

Gyda was just a blur with her speedy flower basket craft. We expect great things from the group’s homework – no pressure.

Nikki, joined us again. She recalled a special dress, pink with yellow flowers. She went out to play, forgot how special the dress was, and it was cut while playing jungles in the garden with the boys.

Lynne produced another tricky quiz. Fortunately, we have some top quizzers.

Pearl’s jokes were up to their usual standard:

Lynne needed a lie down after Pearl’s jokes.

Janet was keen to ensure we fitted-in all our favourite sessions. We always overrun a bit – but we enjoy the packed programme.

The requested tune for this week was “Staying Alive”. We all had a boogie.

Gerry gave us “Mother’s love“:

Chi Ball with Gyda fired-up everyone. Then she calmed us down…

Gyda’s “Monkey“:

David had his homework ready…

Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives, have a jab, and a second jab (I’ve had mine).

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Carers Group: 8/03/21

Spring is almost here.

Lockdown easing and visiting care homes

The government’s guidance state that from today (8th March) one carer should be able to visit the person they care for, in a care home.

A group carer had been identified, by her person’s care home, as a “designated visitor“. She understood she would need to have a lateral flow test and wear PPE when visiting.

In contrast, at a different care home, another carer had been told she needed to have: her first vaccination; lateral flow tests and a PCR test; and she would need to download an app to her smartphone so she could upload the results of her lateral flow tests. She would receive a ‘bundle’ and instructions for using the app. Pending the new arrangements, the “visiting room” was being used.

All care homes are trying to protect their residents, but getting the right safety balance is not easy.

Hospital

A member of our friendship Group joined this group for the first time. His wife had been admitted to hospital and, after some care, had been discharged. She was still not well so he phoned for an ambulance and she was readmitted. Over the last few days he has been trying to speak to a doctor to find ourt what is happening and what they plan to do. Unfortunately there is always a reason why the doctor cannot speak to him. Promises of ring-backs have not happened. The nurses report she is ok, but say nothing beyond that. He can’t see anyone to get an explanation and cannot visit his wife.

Tatiana suggested he talk to the nurse in change on the ward. Make sure they are aware of the unsafe discharge and that they make a note of what happened. Before she is discharged there should be a care plan in place (which may be different from the current one) and that social services in the hospital are involved.

Being stable

A regular carer was pleased to say his wife was more stable. Her drugs had been reduced, which was generally good news. Unfortunately, she was not sleeping, which meant he wasn’t sleeping. He will speak to the GP about a solution. On a very positive note – they are about to become grandparents.

The group suggested her mum get a mobile phone. This had been tried and she had mislaid three of them!

Spreading the load

A carer was still recovering from his experience with covid. His sister, who lives separately, had been visited by his daughter. Now the daughter had moved away and the caring duties returned fully to our member. He was managing, but finding it difficult.

Lewy bodies

“Lewy Bodies are clumps of protein that can form in the brain. When they build up, they can cause problems with the brain works. This may include: memory, movement, thinking skills, mood and behaviour.” People who have dementia with Lewy bodies can have visual hallucinations. Our member said her dad sometimes thought the people on the television were in his room and he would also talk to photographs. He was doing ok and the memory clinic aimed to get him into one of their cognitive stimulation groups – this will be an interesting challenge on Zoom! You can read more about dementia with Lewy Bodies here.

Carer care

One of the group told us about her struggle to cope with the issues in her life and particularly the change in her mum’s attitude towards her. Our member had decided she needed help, even though she believes she knows what to do to help herself. She knows she has made the right decision and the support was helping to put her in a better position.

Activity – it’s good for you

I did a short session on getting more active. While most of us know what we should be doing – there is often a disconnect between the theory and the practice.

Have goals and track you progress against the goals. This is useful for you and will provide evidence to others (for example if you need to involve your GP or hospital). Choose the things you like, but will also challenge you.

Things to do:

  • Yoga – it helps your mood and balance
  • Have your “Playlists for life” – very effective with managing moods
  • Exercise – with lockdown ending we need to be mobile and improve our general fitness
  • Reminisce – it works the memory and can help ease depression
  • Socialise (when you can) – raises the spirits and exercises the mind
  • Engage with nature – a quick way to feel better and do something useful (for example – watering plants)
  • Sit somewhere different – a change in perspective helps get us out of a rut

Try some of these.

Next meeting the 12th April.

Pets – 2nd March 2021

Pets are popular – especially with our group – from cats to snakes via tortoises. Some unusual pet behaviour included an Alsatian that jumped over a 7 foot fence and a black cat that bit people that tried to stroke it.

Our volunteers had some very friendly looking pets, which you can see below.

We ran our usual sessions today: homework, a chat about pets, quiz, jokes, songs, dancing, craft, poem Chi ball, and a reflection reading.

Janet was a bit slow seeing some of Pearl’s joke, but eventually… saw the funny side.

Gyda had a tricky craft – making a paper tortoise (based on Lynne’s pet). She also suggested drawing, and colouring-in a tortoise.

Pearl’s showed us her friend and shared a top joke selection:

Dot and Jen were seen enjoying the jokes – they are a tough audience.

Lynne (the birthday girl) ran the quiz, came up with some interesting facts and showed us her 49 year-old tortoise.

The requested tune for this week was “Top of the World”, Pearl also gave us “How much is that doggie in the window” and “Champion the wonder horse”.

Gerry is not a pet person, but he had a pet poem:

Gyda’s Chi Ball exercise was short, but fun.

Gyda (aged about 4 and her friend) told us about Accepting ourselves:

I almost forgot to show one of our top homework crafts…

Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives, have a jab, get ready for emerging from lockdown!

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First Bikes – 23rd February 2021

Boris has a plan – so we might all meet in person in the not too distant future…

But, for today, we were on Zoom and talking bicycles.

Our group had a lot of memories of biking escapades. Our friend in the West Country had stories of being a postman (bottom bike) and the miles of riding with a heavy sack of post. His other bikes had also done many miles of happy travelling.

Another member had come a cropper when distracted by an attractive young lady – he was riding his bike to work for the first time – speeding down a steep hill – and crashed into a car that he hadn’t notice had stopped. Oops.

We were told you could get a bike for no deposit, in the past, even an expensive one. Unfortunately, this one also found its way to the repair shop on its first outing. Our member saw her friends, took her hands off the handlebars to wave, hit a bump and had an expensive crash.

David’s first bike(s):

David is still the keenest of keen cyclists.

Lynne was back as quiz master. Here are a couple of brain teasers: “What is the largest country in Africa by area?” and “Which president has Richard Nixon as his Vice President?”.

Gyda had a crafty bike to make.

Pearl had to pay her bike off in weekly instalments. Joke selection:

The requested tune for the week was “Que Sera Sera”, Pearl also gave us “Daisy Daisy” and “The push bike song”.

Gerry should keep his eyes on the road when cycling – My bike and me

Gyda’s Chi Ball exercises class was popular as ever.

Gyda (who had had a green tricycle when she was five) told us about Strength:

Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives, have a jab (and a second jab).

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Embarrassing moments – 16th February 2021

It’s Shrove Tuesday – anyone for pancakes? And… it is 50 years since we converted to decimal currency.

We are all of an age to recognise these notes and coins. No farthings – that would be too old for the group!

Our “Show and Tell” picture interlude is gaining momentum. This week we had 8 photos. These ranged from an enormous garage, that was in the (slow) process of being tidied – to a lovely bunch of flowers.

Our friends in the West Country sent this picture – apparently straw people are all around the local area – what a fun idea.

Sharon visited us for the last time today, she has a new job with the Greenwich re-enablement team. We must say “Thank you” to Sharon for her help and support – and joining in with the fun in the group. Gary from  the Carers Centre joined today and will be coming in future. Gary is a former punk rocker from the 1970s, so he should fit in well.

David had been busy re-purposing some of Gyda’s crafts to make a valentine’s card for his wife. He also showed us this 3D creation. A talented man.

Eventually we got to Embarrassing Moments. The group were full of these. For example:

  • M – tripped over, carrying 4 open bottles of wine down some steps in front of her bosses. She didn’t spill a drop or get hurt – she was too drunk to notice! 
  • J – when she was16, went to the pictures on a blind date to please her brother in law. Later she told the him what a drip the date was, at great length, the date was in the next room and heard it all. 
  • C – after a very bad and busy start to the day, arrived at work to have a difficult moment in front of her boss. He gave her the news – she had come to work without a skirt on!!

Janet substituted for Lynne as quiz master today. I found the February questions very easy (I had done the quiz last Saturday). The others got on very well too.

Gyda invited us to make pancakes – fortunately, no cooking was required.

Pearl’s Bees and more jokes:

The requested tune for the week was “Walk Tall”, Pearl also gave us “Waiting at the church” and “I only wanna be with you”.

Gerry – My embarrassment:

Gyda’s Chi Ball exercises class was full, as usual.

Gyda’s Happiness

The vaccination programme is progressing in the Royal Greenwich borough. The number of local vaccination centres continues to grow.

The Queen Elizabeth hospital is the borough’s first mass vaccination centre. On 1st March the plan is to use Charlton Athletic football ground as the second. For more information go to Healthwatch Greenwich.

Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives, have a jab

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.

Ailments & remedies of childhood – 9th February 2021

The chill was on – freezing cold, the snow everywhere. We were all warm in our Zoom windows.

Janet started the session with a reminder that, from this weekend, we will begin the Chinese The Year of the Ox.

Next was our picture “Show and Tell” interlude. We had photos of – Pearl’s knitted hat and an amaryllis – Peter and Janet’s 100 piece old fashioned shop puzzle – and J’s – snowy back garden, her beautiful orchids and Beware of Joe garden ornament. 

We started our discussion on the theme of the week by chatting about how we survived childhood illnesses.

Additional illnesses included: A’s rickets, he was in hospital for 5 years and didn’t speak till he was 6 or 7 – G had problems with her kidneys – C got head butted and knocked unconscious by a ram – D had his tonsils out.

We also had some additional remedies: R’s gran told him to put pepper on all his food and said he wouldn’t get a cold – P alcohol to quieten him down when he was a baby – M cod liver oil, boiled milk with onions & pepper – D orange juice from the clinic with a spoonful of cod liver oil in it – N an egg up with a squeeze of lemon and honey. 

Hospital stays seem to have changed a lot, as has child safety: D was playing with his elder brother, near the Sidcup bypass, when his brother fell on broken glass and had to go to hospital. D, age 4 or 5, was left behind. He managed to find his way home and was minded by a neighbour. The police were out searching for him for a long time before he was found with the neighbour. 

Nikki couldn’t find any red clothes, but her red tea was in tune with the Valentine’s colour theme.

Lynne took us through a Valentine’s quiz. Try these questions… In which city did Romeo and Juliet meet? and Why do some people tie cans onto the back of wedding cars?

Gyda’s had the crafters making hearts from strips of paper. Several members had completed their Bunch of flowers homework from last week.

Pearl’s Doctor, Doctor jokes:

The requested tune for the week was “One day at a time” We then sang and danced to: “A spoon full of sugar” and “When you’re in love with a beautiful woman”.

Gerry had a poem about child psychology:

Gyda’s Chi Ball exercises had us up, down and around.

Gyda finished with Buried dreams

Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives, don’t book a holiday.

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Carers Group: 8/02/21

The snow was deep and crisp and icy. Fortunately, we were on Zoom. We were able to have a full meeting, in the warmth of our own homes.

Teepa Snow: the GEMS model

Peter revisited this model. Teepa Snow’s fascinating video introduction to the model is here.

To quote the web site: “The only constant with dementia, or brains in general, is that they are ever-changing. All humans experience brain change every day. This GEMS Model, developed by Teepa Snow and based on the Allen Cognitive Scale, recognizes the shifts in our skills and abilities in any given moment. With dementia, while the progression, pattern, and changes may look very different for each type of dementia, the movement through the GEMS is somewhat predictable. Your understanding of the remaining abilities at each step of this journey can make a world of difference.” – “Just like gems, each person is precious, valuable, and unique, and given the right setting and care, can shine.” – Teepa Snow

Covid vaccine

We were told that vaccinations were progressing well. One issue raised was about where someone has had an allergic reaction to vaccinations in the past. The questions asked before someone has the covid jab include ones about reactions and anaphylactic shock. The guidance is very clear that anyone who is vulnerable should raise the potential issue and only be vaccinated in a hospital.

Some vaccination centres are ahead of others. Guys hospital, for example, is able to vaccinate carers (the call handlers vet those claiming to be carers). Having had rather a lot of visits to Guys recently, I recommend their efficient and very clean centres.

Guys is where I had my jab. For me it was quick, painless and came with a cup of coffee and a biscuit. Thank you NHS.

Scam phone calls

Sadly a carer reported her mum had been receiving lots of scam calls on her land-line. The callers claimed to be from a variety of organisations, including HMRC and BT. They asked for personal details. Stopping these calls is very difficult, as the callers use a variety of numbers and block tracing. The police were involved in this case. They advised the mum to hang up if she didn’t know the caller – she replied “but that would be very rude”.

The group suggested her mum get a mobile phone. This had been tried and she had mislaid three of them!

Easy use Telephones

The group liked the idea of phones with big keys, showing photos of the people who had been pre-programmed into the phone,

Here is an example [we have not tested this model – it is included just for information].

Keep warm

Another story was about a mum turning the heating down, she didn’t want a big bill. There had been several discussions about the need to keep warm, particularly as the mum doesn’t move about very much. This hadn’t been as successful as hoped for. The mum, somewhat frustrated with the radiator controls, had smashed them with a broom handle.

Janet suggested putting notes around the house reminding mum, and any visitors, not to turn the heating off.

The mum and daughter came to our Friendship group the following day. Janet asked the mum, in passing, if she was warm enough. She said “yes” and that she would never turn the heating off and be cold…

Melting away

Being isolated in a care home is having negative effects on those staying there. A carer said her mum’s home had not had any covid cases and they wanted to keep it that way. This was good news from a physical health perspective, but was having a big impact on mental health. The carer felt her mum was melting away. The lack of in-person contact is leading to difficulties in communicating by phone, as mum is unsure about who she is talking to and is easily distracted.

Emotional rollercoaster

A carer, who has been at home with his wife for many months, said that she doesn’t recognise him and her emotions were in turmoil. She had lost her language. He tries a variety of methods to distract and calm her, sometimes succeeding. Like other group members the strain is clear when he speaks, but he puts a brave face on and is as positive as possible.

Dementia and learning difficulties

People often don’t just have one issue to deal with. In this case, the challenges of being in a care home continue to cause the person, her carer, and the home problems and stress. Here is another home that has no cases of covid and is very protective of its people – especially as it is in an area of very high infection rates. The person wants to see her carer, wants to go home and can not understand what is happening to her. Her frustration means she is considered a “disruptive” person.

Carer mental well-being

How would you cope if you were looking after three old ladies each with different ailments and a son? What if, in addition, your husband and father had died in the recent past. And then covid and lockdown arrives? How much counselling and support would be needed?

Charcoal

Some people with dementia develop their own ideas on health remedies, often based on memories from the past. A carer mentioned again that his sister had decided that charcoal would help fend off covid. The group seem to think it odd that anyone would want to take charcoal. A quick look at Amazon shows that charcoal is a popular remedy (but not for covid), see here.

On a positive note, the sister has a covid jab booked.

Let’s see some real people!

Our final story was from a carer who’s dad was doing well. He often spoke to family and friends on the telephone. This went well, but then he was keen to go and meet them. He had difficulty in understanding why he couldn’t.

Postscript

We were ready to say goodbye, when the subject of disappearing pens came up. Two carers said that pens had found their ways into mysterious areas of trousers or leggings. How they got there and how to get them out had been proving a challenge.

Next meeting the 8th March.

First wages – 2nd February 2021

Janet asked the group who had had the vaccine for covid. The majority either had, or were booked-in. Such good news.

We discussed first jobs back in October 2020. This time we discussed first wages. Most members could recall their wages (see below) – Janet and I had no recollection : (



We all seem to have started out in tough times, with low wages. I was very impressed with L (Lynne – our master of quizzes) – who managed to go out on 4 nights every week.

We had another shed story this week, or rather a history of a shed over 40 years !

In the last couple of months our group friends, who have moved to the West Country, have been tinkering with their easily manageable front garden. Here is the work in progress.

Our contribution to “Show and tell” was our recent conversion to being dissectologists. Janet talked through the 7 Surprising Benefits of Doing Jigsaw Puzzles for All Ages – you can read more here.

Lyne had a 1980’s pop tune quiz:

Lynne has been very good recently in giving us quizzes that even I have a chance of getting some of the answers right. For example “Which was the only British pop group to with the Eurovision Song Contest in the 80s?”.

Gyda’s craft was making a bouquet of flowers.

Two goodies from Pearl:

Time for singing and dancing to: “Money, money, money” and “(Money) Can’t buy me love”.

Gyda’s Chi Ball exercises are always very popular.

Gyda ended the session by suggesting Peace:

Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives.

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Achievements during the pandemic – 26th January 2021

As we expected, our members have been busy during the pandemic and even during the special restriction of the various lockdowns. Everyone had got to grips with Zoom. One couple had arranged international weekly quizzes. Pearl had been baking for neighbours – and knitting in every spare moment (including during our Zoom meetings)

Fresh air and exercise are popular. One member volunteers to organise Zoom fitness sessions. Janet encouraged people to do resistance training to retain and/or improve muscle strength and bone density.

We didn’t have a category for putting up sheds, but two of our members had done just that – and provided photographic evidence as part of our Tell and Show session. One of the shed men also found time to make Sloe Gin. Other activity in the last week included a Burns Night Supper, complete with haggis and all the trimmings. Janet asked “What’s in a haggis” – probably not a good question.

Gerry (one of our shed enthusiasts) on Lockdown:

We were on the verge of singing Happy Birthday, but saved it until the end. Singing on Zoom is tricky, especially with slight time delays. I had wondered what “cacophony” meant – now I know.

David read his tribute to Carole.

Lynne had a Catch-phrase quiz. Here are a couple of testers – who said “Hello my darling” and who said “Mr Grimsdale, Mr Grimsdale“. We all did well, one person (our haggis enthusiast) got 15/15!

The Pearl’s jokes:

Time for singing and dancing to: “I’m on top of the world” and “Reach for the sky”.

Gyda’s craft was making a Snowflake.

David had been busy again.

Gyda’s Chi Ball exercises are very popular.

Gyda suggested Staying in the present moment:

Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives, have a vaccination (I have).

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Tunes from films & musicals – 19th January 2021

We are a group of music lovers with eclectic tastes. Fortunately, we are happy to hear each other’s views on music – even if someone admits to not liking The Wizard of Oz!

Zoom is wonderful for those who can’t get out and about – such as people classed as “clinically extremely vulnerable” (like me) and “struck down with covid” (one of our Davids). David is improving a lot – but over-did it a bit today, so went for a lay down after saying hello.

Good news from many of our members who have had the vaccine. Some had minor side effects, but people are feeling much more positive.

Back to business. We asked about favourite film and show tunes:

Among “Others” were songs from Mama Mia, The Rose and GuThe King and I.

Gerry returned with a poetry reading:

People popped in and out as the meeting went on. Gerry had to go and check on his banana bread.

Lynne had made up a quiz from scratch. It certainly had me scratching my head.

For example… which films are these songs from?

  • Shall we dance?
  • Got to pick a pocket or two?

The people’s choice of Pearl’s jokes:

Time for singing and dancing as usual – then…

Gyda’s craft was a “Thank you” rainbow for the NHS.

The group’s choice of in-session snacks are always a puzzle.

Gyda exercised us with more Chi Ball and Giving compliments:

I showed pictures what the brain looks like before and after activity. It highlighted the mental health benefits of going outside (gardening, walking etc). So… the homework for this week is: to take pictures of when you are out and about to show where you are and what you are doing – email to me and we will have some examples next week.

Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives, have a vaccination.

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.