Mark Sedgwick – 17th January 2023

A new entertainer for the group.

He went down a storm. You can listen to a sample of Mark singing “Sweet Caroline” here:

You can hear more of Mark’s tunes here.

In the first hour group members had a chat and exercised their brains with word-searches and other fun activities. The nibbles helped things along.

Gyda and David encouraged the crafters with new ideas.

Everyone joined in the entertainment, whether standing or sitting. Mark is in there, raising the roof with joyful tunes. It was lovely to see so many people at the group despite the cold weather.

The Reflections Friendship Group is next at Shrewsbury House on 31st January at 1pm. Jamie will entertain us with his New Year’s Rock and Roll dance party.

Please note: in our uploaded photos we blur the faces of all group members. You do see the faces of our wonderful volunteers.

Carers Group: 10/1/23

Janet’s information piece

We discussed the power of words and how group members see their role.

Future meetings

Janet asked group members to contact her if they would be interested in the specialist dementia nurse coming to the group to talk.

Reading

Janet suggested – Why had nobody told me this before by Dr Julie Smith.

Janet’s information piece: Are you a “Carer”?

You are all carers. What do you think about the word “Carer”?

Janet introduced the piece by referring to the Goldster programme with Sir Muir Gray and his books Sod 60 & Sod 70 Aging Well. Sir Muir doesn’t like the word “carer”, he prefers “enabler” as he feels this is more empowering.

Janet ran some Zoom polls asking about alternative names for their role. She also asked if the carer switched rolls withe the person they looked after, would they be happy to to have someone called a “carer”. Generally members were content to be called a “carer”, but they would not like to have a “carer”.

The group discussed definitions: “Enabler” – make something possible. “Supporter” – to help someone. “Champion” – defend/fight for that person.

Language matters. We have a choice in the words we use. Often, “it’s not what you say, it’s  how someone hears it.”

A member said it depends where you are on the journey.

Another member said there’s a distinction in the language between family member carers/professional paid carers. Paid carers are not always there when something happens. Attitudes are very different.

A daughter said her mum has paid carers. Her mum would not accept having carer. However when she rephrased it to ‘helpers’ her mum was more receptive. Her mum calls her carers “lady helpers” and is happy to accept that.

Tatiana said in her experience as a social worker when referring to someone needing “a little help” rather than needing carers, this approach was usually received more positively. After all, we all need some help sometime and it normalises the situation.

A member gave her example of when she had a stroke and had to have help. She wanted it on her terms rather than waiting for them to come and she wanted to have a sense of control. In contrast, when her husband recently needed help from the Enablement Team, they arrived and said “we are not carers who do things to you, we are here to enable you to do things for yourself”. Generally having carers is often seen as having things done to you.

Member updates [I’ve returned to using the title “carer” – Peter]

When is the right time to consider a care home?

A carer said her mum has paid carers in her sheltered housing and has recently taken a downturn. She asked when do you decide to go to a care home? Who makes the decision?

Another carer said it’s difficult. Her mum wavers from week to week, but she wants to stay at home. She will make a decision when either she can’t cope with the caring role any longer, there is a clinical decision or something happens to prompt the move. As long as her mum is safe the daughter will always have her best interests are at heart.

A husband agreed the decision is very difficult. He considers his wife’s best interests and the risk factors. As long as he feels he can look after her at home he will, as his wife is more content at home. He is also aware of her thoughts and views before the dementia progressed.

The carer who raised the subject said she was concerned because her mum wants to stay in her room and lay on the bed not really doing anything.

Another carer said her mum has a friend who comes to see her 3 times a week (paid) to take her for a walk, have a cup of tea and chat. She asked if her mum was thriving where she is? Janet recommended weighing up the pros and cons. It is worth getting someone into stimulate her. Consider if her mood has changed? Chemical changes cause an in-balance in the brain and she may need antidepressants.

Tatiana asked her to consider how her mum managed in between the carers? Maybe have a discussion with social services and ask for an assessment and discuss all the options. Mum may have lost her confidence.

Sleep

A daughter was concerned about her mum sleeping more – she used to get up early and now she doesn’t. The daughter calls mum to get her up in the morning, otherwise her whole day is out of routine. She asked whether this was reasonable to wake her mum. It was felt it was a good idea to wake her at a reasonable time as otherwise it brought her distress on wondering where the daylight had gone. It also helped with keeping a routine.

Side effect of hospital stays

A wife has had a challenging time with her husband. His dementia is worse every time he comes out of hospital. He is waiting for a heart monitor and his blood pressure is creeping up. The wife is keeping an eye on it.

Keep a diary

A sister caring form a distance, keeps a diary about her brother, the things they discuss and how he is. He can get angry and frustrated as he can’t do the things he used to do. When he has a good week he is really nice.

Gyda read: “Each Moment is Precious” by Patricia A Fleming

Next meeting 13th February 2023.

Tony Martin – 3rd January 2023

A positive and healthy New Year to everyone.

Tony gave us his favourite tunes for us to sing and dance along. Hear more of Tony’s songs here.

Janet, Pearl, Marilyn, Dot, David, Mary, Helen, Tony and Jen – I took the photos and forgot to do a selfie : (

Everyone enjoyed the fun activities as usual.

Some of the group may have been warn-out by the festive season, but quite a few managed a dance or three.

Christabel and May from The Memorial came to visit us and we welcomed back Janice from the Carers Centre. They all had a chat to the members and managed a couple of dances.

The Reflections Friendship Group is next at Shrewsbury House on 17th January at 1pm. We have a new singer – Mark – who will entertain us.

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.

Please note: in our uploaded photos we blur the faces of all group members. You do see the faces of our wonderful volunteers.

Carers Group: 12/12/22

Janet’s information piece

Progress with new Alzheimer’s drug lecanemab

In top-line results from a phase 3 clinical trial called Clarity AD, lecanemab has been shown to slow down the decline in thinking and memory skills in people living with early Alzheimer’s disease by 27%. 

  • Lecanemab is a drug that targets amyloid protein build-ups in the brains of people living with Alzheimer’s disease, marking them to be cleared away by the brain’s immune system. 
  • Clearing away these amyloid protein build-ups has been long explored as a potential way of slowing down how quickly a person with Alzheimer’s disease’s memory and thinking skills get worse – but clinical trials have struggled to show any beneficial effects on symptoms in the past. 
  • This news represents a potentially game-changing step towards treatments that can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the UK.

The trails will continue. Careful screening and targeting of suitable people is needed and there are some concerns about side effects. The NHS will await clearance before the treatment is offered to patients.

Member updates

Support

A carer said her dad seems to have perked up. He has been given meds so he doesn’t get up so much in the night. Her Mum has good and bad days – mainly not wanting extra support. She gets irritable with him and it’s now more difficult bathing and dressing him. It’s a lot to come to terms with and it’s taking its toll on her. Her mum is concerned at the idea of getting someone in. She thinks maybe if social services come in they will take him away. She believes it’s her duty to take care of him. Tatiana said social services are there to help and work together to support them both. If something happens to her mum it’s important to have something in place. Try it for a while and make decisions from there. Have an assessment list.

Another carers said she can understand what she’s up against. Her mum isn’t 100% happy with her help, but it’s for her own benefit. Janet said you can make suggestions. Some people don’t make a decision until there’s a crisis. Volcare was recommended by a third carer who finds them excellent.

Motivation

A male carer tries to motivate his wife who is in the early stage of dementia. She has had a sleep monitor and they are waiting for the results.

It’s cold out there

A daughter has had a tricky week with her mum turning off the radiators. She lives alone and is afraid that she will go to prison if she can’t pay the energy bills. It’s like a fridge in her home.

Safeguarding

Another carer said her step-dad has no central heating, only free standing oil heaters with trailing cables. She is trying to influence him to go into assisted living. His sons are prime carers, but it’s a limbo situation. He is very isolated. Bluebird care comes three times a week to prepare a meal, wash up and put the washing on but she doesn’t know about other days. Janet said that if it is a safeguarding issue she should speak to the sons about it. Tatiana suggested discussing options with social services, to speak to Brian and support him in his decisions.

Gyda read: “A partridge in a pear tree”:

Next meeting 9th January 2023.

Self Care Workshop: 5/12/22

We were delighted to welcome Olga Chernyavska to run a 1 hour online Self Care workshop for Carers.

Olga encouraged carers to look at their own health care and make sure they were prioritising their own needs to prevent burnout. She posed a series of questions:

At the end of the session Olga asked everyone to go through a self care checklist and we are pleased Olga has given permission for it to be shared here.

Self Care Checklist

On a scale of 1 to 10 where one is 1 don’t do this and 10 is I always do this, score yourself on the following questions:

  • Are you eating regularly (once, twice and/or three times per day, depending on what is normally regular for you. More here)?
  • Are you eating healthily most of the time? (More here)
  • Are you prioritising time to buy the necessary ingredients and cook/prepare them? (More on time management here)
  • Are you taking vitamin D in winter? (More on vitamins here)
  • Are you drinking plenty of water daily? (The NHS recommends drinking 6-8 glasses of fluid a day. More here)
  • Are you exercising regularly? (Walking is an excellent form of exercise and has many health benefits especially if done outside. It is good for your cardiovascular system, it strengthens bones and muscles and helps to manage stress. More here)
  • Are you attending all your medical appointments/checkups?
  • Are you taking your medication as prescribed?
  • Are you receiving massage? (More here)
  • Are you getting adequate sleep? (It is suggested adults need between 7-9 hours per night. While we can get by with less sleep for a short while, if this goes on for too long it starts to cause health implications for brain and body. More here)
  • Are you taking breaks from TV, social media, telephone? (More from the USA here)
  • Do you take time each day to stop and pay attention to the sensations in your body and notice how you are feeling? (By doing this regularly you can start to notice when you are becoming stressed and can look to take action to reduce it. More here)

[Please note: the links above are for information, they were not part of the session.]

It may be worth scanning through the above checklist regularly to ensure you are scoring highly and if you are not, considering what you can do to change things (A pdf version of the checklist is here).

Caring for someone with dementia can take it’s toll on carers. Self care is important and vital not a luxury, as it will enable you to continue to keep caring without detriment to your own health.

Olga is a Mind-Body therapist, interested in the interconnection of the mind and body, preventing ill health and improving wellbeing. For more information about Olga and the online services she provides, please visit her website: http://www.occounsellingandpsychotherapy.org

We shall be asking members for their feedback on the session and if they would be interested in a follow-up session.

Vikki Melrose – Christmas party 6th December 2022

Santa joined us for the afternoon.

Vikki gave us a suitably lively Christmas party set. The traditional Twelve Days of Christmas, with actions, was enjoyed by all.

We are very grateful to Tina (Vice President, the Kent Spiritual Teaching Group) and Gwen (the Greenwich Pearly Queen) who presented Reflections with generous donations.

Reflections provided a light lunch for our members (excellent food, including home made mince pies, from Emma’s Pantry at Shrewsbury House – thank you Emma and Kelly). Then it was on to the serious business of dancing and singing with Vikki.

Santa and his helpers joined in with the fun.

We thank all our volunteers who have done a great job again this year. They send best wishes to you.

The Reflections Friendship Group is next at Shrewsbury House on 3rd January 2023 at 1pm.

Tony will be with us next time.

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.

Please note: in our uploaded photos we blur the faces of all group members. You do see the faces of our wonderful volunteers.

Julian Garman – 22nd November 2022

Julian warmed us up with another top quality show.

The tunes were very varied and the audience sang and danced along (some sat and danced).

Dot and Jen were in seasonal spirits.

Plenty of dancing and singing kept everyone in the groove.

Next session we have our Christmas party. The elves will be very busy to ensure everyone has a good time.

After that we have a short break and we will be back in January 2023.

As 2022 is coming to an end we want to thank all the wonderful people who have made donations to the Reflections charity this year. Your help enables us to run the charity and makes a real difference. Thank you.

The Reflections Friendship Group is next at Shrewsbury House on 6th December at 1pm.

The always popular Vikki will be here to entertain us.

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.

Carers Group: 21/11/22

Notices

  • Janet introduced and spoke about the upcoming Self Care Workshop.

Member updates

New members, old problems

A new member of the group supports her brother in Australia. He has limited support there.

Another new member  cares for her mother who is living in sheltered accommodation in Eltham. Her mother has been independent, but is now worried and scared making excuses not to go to the communal area. She is also not drinking enough. A regular member spoke about his wife and the struggle to keep her hydrated. He suggest suggested fruits, ice cream and jelly. Janet suggested there may be someone in the home that could encourage her mum and to contact Social Services to do an assessment. Janet said her thirst receptors may be affected. People can get to a point where they feel unsafe, thinking “If I stay in can be safe”. Another carer had to go with her mum to the Queen Elizabeth hospital recently as she had become dehydrated.

Here is a link to Good Hydration and how to ensure that someone is not becoming dehydrated. The Dementia UK website has lots more useful information.

Not taking medication

A sister-in-law spoke about the person she cared for refusing to take her meds as she had read the side effects on the leaflet.They are trying to contact Monica Crugel (at the Memory Clinic) for a second opinion. They have an appointment in January. The person with dementia hasn’t taken her meds for about three weeks now. Tatiana said if they were worried about the situation they should ask to speak to the doctor again and put it in writing. Ask for a mental capacity assessment and what needs to be done – copy it all over to Monica. Janet recommended asking for a written summary of the meeting.

Feeling low

The next speaker said her dad is feeling down at the moment and has low energy. He is not responding to the usual things that they do. He doesn’t go out as much.  People do come to see him, but it upsets him and he gets aggressive and says he’s going to bed. Another carer said unexpected guests can unsettle her mum too. She has a friend who comes to see her three times a week. Janet asked if he was on antidepressants as he may need a low dose.

Mobility

The next conversation covered a mum who has mobility issues and how she shakes if she opens the front door. The son said he has good and bad days, but focuses on the good.

Time for a holiday

Finally we were updated about a mum who is in a care home after a lot of problems. Sadly her mum no longer recognises her. The daughter is going on holiday for the first time in four years.

Next meeting 12th December 2022.

Jamie Steen- 8th November 2022

I suspect Jamie had been to his costumier…

We enjoyed a wide variety of 60s top tunes..

New members were put to work making their own name badges.

There was enthusiastic dancing, but some of our volunteers were ready to surrenderer after an hour of frantic Twisting, doing The Mashed Potato and The Locomotion.

Julian will join us at our next session.

The Reflections Friendship Group is next at Shrewsbury House on 22nd November at 1pm.

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.

Vikki Melrose – 25th October 2022

Halloween time.

A spooky session, as befits the season.

Even the crafts were slightly batty.

Here is some of the artwork crated by our members (with thanks to David for the inspiration and framing).

Gyda’s crafty cats were very popular..

Everyone on-board for The Love Train. Thanks to Vikki for some great songs.

The Reflections Friendship Group is next at Shrewsbury House on 8th November at 1pm.

Jamie will be with us next time.

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.