Dad (AKA grumpy) Our families Dementia journey

Lets look back:

2017 Journey begins and diagnosis……….Mum had seen a number of changes within grumpy which made her concerned regarding his memory. The issue we have is that grumpy has multiple conditions and as many people know some can mirror Dementia Symptoms and also the medication he takes could have had an impact. However, mum had to make an appointment for dad at his local GP to talk about some of his conditions and at that appointment she raised her concern. She wasn’t sure she would raise it as she was worried about Grumpy’s reaction. However, Grumpy also said he had noticed things that he was worried about.

The doctor on this visit was one of the ‘good ones’ (sadly the surgery isn’t that good). So there and then the GP commenced the initial testing. Which went similar to this:

  • name and address was given to him at the start.
  • asked him to count backwards from 20
  • asked him to say the months of the years backwards
  • showed him a selection of pictures and one of the was a crown and he asked which picture related to the royal family.
  • He then asked him to tell him the name and the address that he had given to him at the start.

On speaking to mum after she said for some he did well, he did remember some of the address and name, he was able to get half way counting and for the months. However, he struggled with the picture question and could not explain the crown being part of the royal family.

The doctor then said he has some markers that could mean he needs further testing and that he would refer to the ‘Memory team’ (what it says on the tin I suppose).  He also asked for medication review, and full round of bloods to rule out any other condition that could mimic Dementia.

Grumpy went along to the memory team with mum and sister Joanna which is really important to have as many people as you can that knows them. As we also see different changes which helps the professionals to see the bigger picture. He was also sent for a CT scan.

During the months that followed dad fell unwell, had a number of TIA (mini strokes), post stroke seizures, bouts of infections which meant lots of trips to the hospital (not always a positive experience). Not having a definite diagnosis was hard as the hospital did not meet his needs at the time and a lot of this was down to not having it in black and white. I felt they dismissed us which added even more pressure.

I am going to continue to write about Dad’s journey. This is just the beginning 2017 was a hard year. I am aware it is not over and that 2018……….onwards is going to have more hard times.

A few things to note:

  • keep notes if you notice changes
  • during the investigations do not forget to breathe
  • once diagnosis comes do not think life is over there and then
  • know that dementia is a terminal illness and this can be something we need to support people understanding
  • a diagnosis does not mean someone does not have capacity understand so remember how they feel about the diagnosis
  • depression is a common reaction
  • compassion and empathy will help you to support someone.
  • plan for the future
  • before diagnosis consider Lasting Power of attorney for health and wellbeing (only comes in to action when the person loses capacity).

 

Will be back with more experiences and progression within Grumpy’s journey.

By the way ‘Grumpy’ is a term of endearment that all his grandchildren use (because he is grumpy but it a loving way).

 

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Just a quick blog Dementia related

Important part of being a trainer is to keep your self up to date, refreshed and competent in what you train so at the moment I am doing a free course within Dementia. Its not advanced training its getting back to the basics and updating on my understanding. As part of the course there I have just watch a video from Terry Pratchett. He was talking about the difference in getting a diagnosis of cancer compared to dementia (both horrid). He made a point that people when diagnosis with cancer with be given hope or feel there is still hope but for someone diagnoses with Dementia there is no hope of recovery (at this point in time) and therefore he felt he was very alone with his diagnosis as everyone knows hope isn’t something that comes into it.

However, he still wrote best sellers and was focused on  living well with Dementia. 

I am enjoying the course it is simple and when I finish I will gain a certificate and I am already feeling I am being reminded of things to consider but also how important it is to not have one size fits all approach. Its something I teach a little of but I am now going to ensure it plays a bigger part in my training.

The course I am doing is from the university of Tasmania I have shared previously on my FB page. This is not a recommendation as for some it will not fit their learning style but hey check it out. Free learning is important and CPD can only support you with what ever you do in life. You don’t even have to be working in care, or medical field to do this course. Knowing about Dementia is important for all.

Check the links out you may find them helpful

 

Quality of Life (what does this mean)?

I was in the process of writing my blogs when a question from a conversation I had had with my mother that morning  crossed my mind.

That question was – Quality of life, what does it mean to people?

During the conversation with my mother we spoke about my fathers’ current health and his recovery after a recent bout of pneumonia, which then led to diagnosis of emphysema. I should add at this stage that he has also got Alzheimer’s.

Currently he is taking a medication for his Alzheimer’s, as well as steroids to help his lungs. This combination of medicine, my mother has explained to me, has made my father more awake, engaged in TV and films and less confused.

However, she is concerned that since today is the last day of his steroids, he will decline again and she will end up rushing back and forth to hospital.

So I said then maybe they should look at giving the steroids full time if he does go downhill; as quality of life is so important.

My family knows that my dad will deteriorate, and know what to expect. We will ensure that his choice are respected, and that we all love him as we always have.

Yet, whilst we must ensure that he has quality of life, we must never forget that my mother (his main carer) is entitled to her own quality of life.

Of course she is happy he seems much more aware and awake, but it has  impacted on  her ‘quiet time’ as she calls it. In the past she would assist dad to bed and then have time for herself to surf the net, embarrass us on Facebook and to watch ‘Hollyoaks’ but at the moment she isn’t having that. She confided in me that she was feeling Guilty about feeling Selfish for wanting her ‘quiet time’

But do you know what she isn’t selfish and she has every right to have a Quality of life also.

As a loving, and caring, carer, who looks after her Husband each and every hour, of each and everyday. She should not feel selfish, if her ‘quite time’ is disturbed.

It’s this  ‘quite time’ that enables her to recharge her batteries, have a bit of ‘Me Time’, and is vital for her own well being, health and mental health.

It is critically important that she is able to communicate her thoughts and feelings and not be judged, but instead be listened to and supported.

I believe quality of life is key to my dads and mums continued happiness. My mum will ensure my dads quality of life, my family must support and listen to my mother to make sure that she has her.

That support is vital to all carers in this world.

Don’t forget to care for the carer. Don’t let them silently blend into the background.

So in conclusion I feel quality of life to me is about:

• Maintaining identity: ‘See who I am!’
• Sharing decision-making: ‘Involve me!’
• Creating community: ‘Connect with me!’

For both the person who is being cared for and the carer

Let me know what you think? Share your understanding please.

Maxine

 

 

 

What’s next, What can I do?

Today I am sat at home, waiting  to do some one to one session with learners (working from home), had appointments booked in but sadly not one completed at the moment and its gone 12:00 (tick tock). However, I have had an interesting call about a new idea for a support site and I am now questioning what I want to do next.

Don’t get me wrong assessing in general is a good job and it fits with my life but like today, I have not had a session completed, sadly people not picking up the phone, no work to mark so in some sense it becomes hard to ensure someone’s learning journey is consistent and meaningful. Commitment sometimes is lacking or schedules change in care and people just don’t let me know.

So I am now sat here thinking (cogs turning, head full).

My ultimate goal was to go into more training, motivational sessions to get people to buy into the care and how to be the best. I wanted to get a community talking about care but not sure how.

I see the best but some times not the so good (poor practice and care). I set up my Facebook page and this blog to try to get a community talking and sharing their stories but to be honest its not working. Have less then 100 likes on FB page which if you consider the amount of people in care that’s just nothing. Followers on word-press I have 21. Is this because I don’t use profanities, I do a blow by blow log of my day, is it because people just don’t talk about care or is it people in care just don’t have the time.

So where am I going wrong? What do I need to do?  Where do I go from here?

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Good bye 2016. Hello 2017

I am sure there are going to be a lot of these predictable new years posts but it has to be done and it has to be done well.

So here goes:

2016 what did you give to me.

January you gave me a graduate as my gorgeous daughter graduated from Derby University. A very proud moment.jan

February was a quiet month but still but I got to sea seals on the beach in Norfolk with my wonderful friend ‘Kinky’ or Kate if you need her real name.

March was a busy time just getting out and about and meeting up with friends.The mask picture was a game of pin the cucumber on the hunk (you had to be there).

April was all about the gardening and family time. The big garden was commenced and a pop to Lowerstoft to see mum and dad.

May the gardening became a massive build or should I say demolition, poor Alan ended up on his back with me giggling. Love continued.

June was all about the queens birthday and a mission to try and get the community together which was not a great success but we had great time with the usual bunch of people.

July was about big weekend, time alone with Cameron in Norfolk, checking out the botanic gardens to see where we will have our wedding photos and then barbecue in the new look garden.

August was a trip to Scotland with some great friends who fell in love with the scenery. We had an amazing week,lucky with the weather and lovely place to stay. It was also the month when cucumbers and tomatoes grew beautifully.

September was a first for me going to my very first festival and then meeting Paddy of Emerdale. The parents visiting which was lovely and I got my heron photo. It was a good month. There was much sadness in September also which a number of my friends had to deal with and they dealt with their sadness with such dignity and strength.

October was a charity event time for breast cancer when planning it I was just thinking back at Valerie the real founder of the title to my blog but then how would I have known it would then be news that would be hard for all with my niece being diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a great night and every penny will count. I then had  a visit to bakewell with my lovely friend and her children.

November was a month where things were a little quieter but with a great night thrown in at Gin of the Rocks. Night at the museum and more gardening for Alan.

 

Now we come to December where we had the best time and the most fun just spending this month with family and friends. So no we have got to 31/12/16 a little poorly so no going out but what I do have is 2017 to look forward to and I can’t wait.

Good bye 2016 and welcome with bells on 2017. We have a wedding, more babies due and people to fight hard to ensure they get well. So positive vibes required and celebrations to be focused on.

Happiness, Health and Love I wish all.

Why oh bloody why

Come on let’s bloody stop this. Why oh why are we allowing our most precious/vulnerable people to be placed in poor care homes. For those amazing carers (there will be some in these homes) that work in these homes that lights are flickering please speak up and stand tall and try to use your kindness elsewhere or to help make these homes better. CQC and the councils use these good carers to make the difference. Sort out the management and the owners make them stand up and explain publicly as to why they are failing! Make them explain. Why are they not in public at a public meeting telling us their reason. why they are failing. How can we accept failing homes.

My anger is justified as these care homes can access funding and support. Yes there are cuts but there are ways of not affecting care there really is. We are suppose to care for our most vulnerable, bloody hell lets get it right. Come on society please value care, the government stop cutting things for the most vulnerable.

 

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News is that Whilst in Scotland I was proposed too… I SAID YES…….

Well 25/07/15 my lovely Scotsman proposed to me whilst stood next to a tree over looking Loch Eck. I was shocked that he asked me on this day as it was my sons birthday and really had no idea he would pop the question. 2 Witness and a number of pictures later I enjoyed letting everyone know that I will be getting married.  The photographs are of us at Loch Eck on that lovely day (even though raining). Loch Eck will always hold a special place as it was one of the first places that my now fiancé took me to on my first visit to Scotland in 2013 I loved it then and I love it even more now. It is so memorising and beautiful and has many places to view it from and each shows a unique picture that should and is asking to be captured.

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