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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I have been quiet!

Me and Mental Wellbeing

Sometimes you just gets carried away and you forget to take a moment to just stop and do something as simple as sitting in the garden. At present I am working mainly doing  “in house training”. On the plus side it is work (which if fantastic) on the flip side it does mean long days and quite a bit of additional travelling, which means I’ve not had time to stop, think and contemplate.  Even on my trip to Brugge texts and calls were coming into my mobile and I was thinking abut work; which was not ideal

Currently, I have a number of new blog ideas and will try to get these down and posted soon. However, for now I am sat here in the garden preparing for next week, compiling a powerpoint for Mental Health Awareness training. Which has got me thinking  and I decided to stop for a moment and blog.

Today while looking on information and refreshing my knowledge on Mental Health I was able to think of my own Mental Wellbeing (its not something I talk about a lot  or even try to think about to much).

Like many people, I can say that periods of my life has challenged my mental wellbeing. While researching the prevalence of mental health I realised that more people develop mental health issues at a younger age.  The amount of young people that suffer anxiety and depression is quite worrying. However, when I think back I realise that I suffered anxiety as a youngster, its just that the name was not used or the awareness of Mental Health was not what it is now.

Mental Health unfortunately did follow me into adulthood and its only now I admit what it is, I used to just ignore it and would never ever admit to labelling how I was feeling (not sure why but a hidden illness comes to mind). Some of how I felt was about loss of control and fear of what might happen to my family or friends and then it would build so I would feel anxious.

I am lucky I have a supportive husband who has admitted that he is still learning about Mental Health, and initially did not understand why I react to the simplest of issues in the way I did, and seemly blow them out of all proportion. Now though, he does and he helps me to structure things and take control which has helped. This has allowed me to manage my mental wellbeing to a degree .

I now recognise and am more aware of times in my life, when my Mental Well being has been challenged and I am trying to be more open and honest about my feeling and not hiding them away for fear of judgement and what might happen.(Work in progress)

Things that have helped;IMG_0230.JPG

  • Taking control of my financial situation (thanks to my husband) as now I am not as afraid about money as I used to be.
  • Autonomy within my career which has allowed me control (well some control).
  • Trying to open up a little more to my husband.
  • Being aware that I am not in a good place and trying to not ignore.
  • Trying to organise my life a little more.
  • Enjoying simple things in life.
  • Sitting in the garden and just focussing on whats important.

Don’t get me wrong this is not a quick fix , but it has helped me greatly and given me peace of mind. I am hopeful that as time goes on things will continue to progress and I will continue to work on myself. IMG_0250.JPG

I sit here now and feel good and feel happy I can take moments like this (yes I am working but working outside has a different feeling). I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I am suffering I am not I am just sharing which I think is a massive step. Hiding is not the answer, feeling embarrassed is not a feeling we should feel, being scared to admit how we feel today is not allowing us to heal.

So today I am good but hey tomorrow it might be different. However, as I say make the most of the good days and feel alive as life will still be there and will still need you to breath. Just stop take a moment, look at the simple things like our cat Kobe needing attention from the most caring man I know.

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Don’t forget to take pleasure in the simplest of things because that will give you joy and joy is the greatest defence against feeling low. Stay safe, speak up and do not hide away.

 

Maxine

Memories and the making of them

So you all know about my Dad AKA Grumpy, well he continues to go through the journey that is Alzheimer’s and the progress within this cruel and unforgiving disease (yes a disease not a normal part of ageing). So as a family we are now realising the importance of making memories and today was one of the days that my niece managed to make one and video the evidence for us.  She captured her daughter and us all a memory that previously his grandchildren have and now great grandchildren may still have time to make. So it was great to see a video of Dad with his great granddaughter stood on his wheelchair has he drives it into the house. He actually looked like he used to be and do you know what it made me think we need to grab those memories and just store them to share with those that come after us or are to young to remember. So log it and keep it, enjoy looking back, value who your person is and don’t just see the condition. Remember they are who they were just a little buried under all the chaos that is Alzheimer’s. Its a short blog today but honestly it is so important to remember and save those moments and love them. Just take a moment and sit back and remember the person in front of you. SEE THEM!30922044_10157320885744622_2107416334_o

January is Over

Well what has January done for us lately? Well, business was good and looks like its taking us into February positively.

However, Grumpy saga’s still continue (reminder grumpy is my father) he has had 3 admissions to the hospital and another 3 discharge letters that are unhelpful, not clear and sadly the last one not factual. How is it someone goes into hospital for one thing and comes out with something else and really not seeming any better well in fact potentially worse? With the discharge letter leaving out vital information for the GP.

This time for my mother the experiene was distressing with a Doctor shouting at her and a Nurse (head nurse I believe) being rude, snappy and unhelful to my mother unless oddly if others were there. With the lack of understanding within Dementia and the need for my mother to be there to help so as my father does not get distressed. I don’t understand this and I clearly did not see any understanding of his needs both physically and emotionally.  What fustrates me is we have completed a THIS IS ME write up to tell them about how he is, his history, his needs, his capabilities but I am not even sure they bothered reading it.

Of course on looking at the CQC report I am not surprised the hospital is inadequate and the fact that it took me to tell them to place a fluid chart in place before they did.

So why am I writing this and not naming and shaming well thats because my mother would not like that as she is very much appreciative of the NHS and of the hard work some do but also there is no point as it seems not even CQC have responded to a complaint  I put in. I am therefore writing it for me. I am writing to just show that we need to try to speak up get a voice and say no to poor practice, poor empathy from people who should know better. I am writing because I want to know when Grumpy has to go back in that I know he is having the best care they can possibly give and that they consider my mother and emotional wellbeing.
What this hospital lack or at least now 2 of the 3 wards my father was on are the 6c’s which are:

Care

Compassion

Competence

Courage

Communication

Comittment 

These a key principles not hard, nothing you need to be taught really, things that we should expect and things I remind people of when I do in house training.

So where are we now with grumpy, well he is home. mother is managing and is doing as always and amazing job. Best put that she would do better if the council came and got a bed that has been stood in her garden for nearly 2 months. 

Mother his helped by some (what should I call?)  gentle jibes through the facebook group Grumpy’s groupies. It have got worse by the way with the content to bad that I can not screenshot much of it. This group continues to do its job of light relief and offloading. Its important to know when you need to be serious and when you can just show how nuts you are as that is what this group is about. ‘Its not all about Grumpy’. It has to be about our mum, our grandma it has to be to ensure she is kept up beat in times of adversity.

So bravely I share some of the content.

As you can see its so wrong but for my mother it is so right its her place and she gains so much as do we. Try it. Caring is hard butcan be made easier with the right support and right dose of nuttiness.

 

Hey feel free to share you groups. Smiling and laughing is important. Take care of each other, speak up and be the persons voice and know your rights.

“OUR MOTHER, GRANDMOTHER”

3FBD670A-D848-4029-A4E9-9C89D529F51DIf people have read some of my blogs in recent times you will know my Mother is the carer for my father who has many health conditions including a recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Last night at 9pm he showed signs of being unwell and needed some medical attention. My mother is 70 years old and she wakes every day at 5:30am – sometimes even after not having a good night sleep. Since the diagnosis, dad can get unsettled and have some obsessions.

After making the first call at 9am it took until 2am for medical attention to arrive at their home (not a complaint as it was a busy night for the services), so by time dad was taken in and settled they did not leave the hospital until 6am. As you’ve probably realised, this is over 24 hours since my mother woke up – over 24 hours without sleep, for a 70 year old. She never once complained once though, she just got on with it and took it all in her stride – because that’s who she is.

My mother (who at this point had my sister, Joanna with her) had been awake over 24 hours. So as I write this I am hoping she is sleeping and hope that my dad is being looked after well by any nurses or doctors. We have as usual all come together to support and make sure she has someone with her and we are thankful for the family we have.

My mother will wake and just continue.

She is a carer, but, ultimately, she is a wife who loves her husband and who wants him to be safe, well and have a meaningful life – a meaningful life with her. So she finds the strength to carry on being the best carer that she is, every single day.

So, from all us groupies and all the others in our mad, slightly odd and special family, we appreciate you and what you do mum. We love you and thank you for showing us what love is and how we should care and love through adversity.

I would personally like to thank Joanna for staying with you and making sure you drove ok (terrible back seat driver).

So today, anyone out there who is a carer of a loved one, know that we are grateful, we value your courage and strength. We know you won’t ask for help but know the help is there. Know that we see your tiredness and hear your weariness. We know its bloody hard, it’s frustrating and sometimes it’s like being in a nightmare. We know you do this because you love and you feel you must to do what is best for yur family – you need to know your loved one is safe and cared for after all.

You do what you do so well that we are all in awe of you. We all hope that we will grow in our own strength. We know you are the role model. If we could, we would bottle who you are, so we could share it around to all who are vulnerable so everyone gets equal quality care. You are who should be training our carers of today, you are the training material we need. YOU ARE THE REALITY OF CARE AND CARING.

Grumpies Groupies (WHY OH WHY)

The name of a small family group which was set up to chat and keep each other informed regarding my father (AKA GRUMPY). My mother set up the group (she has become a great user of facebook sometimes embarrassingly) she though it would be good to be able to let us know to be aware when she needs a nap in the day and so the idea was to post things like bad night so phone silence. Or grumpy not great today, etc etc. So all about gumpy.

Well interestingly its sort of turned into a group of women discussing life, issue, concerns, comfort, love and honestly. Well sort of but in reality its got gossip, good news stories, current affairs, just basic bitching and offloading of being a parent at times for some. I should say but if of the sensitive nature you maybe offended with some of the language and discussions I am going to share with you.

Oh with some of the members they have learnt how to add GIF’s and the joy of that can be that a whole evening communication is just through the art of GIPH’s its a GIPH OFF.

 

So as the start:

So all in all not a bad start within a group know check how Grumpy is and check how Mum/Grandma is dealing with things and if we can be of morale support.

However, here is the opposite to what the start was:

Now I know the language and content is terrible and I can only appologies, I will be sharing more and they will make your hair curl but do you know what this is my mothers life line.

We were able to respond at the weekend quickly when mum posted a video on how Grumpy was so confused and unwell it meant that she got people round to help quickly and to support her to call for assistance and get medical attention for Grumpy.  So here is how it helps:

No Grumpy is home with a camera in his bedroom for mum to keep and eye on him. We managed to keep everyone informed and it worked.

So I will share more insights at a later date, but on a serious note, remember to check on each other support the person who has to support their loved one 24/7. Remember they need to be able to laugh through the hard times and realise life goes on even when thing are hard. Everyone one needs to be given a laugh and at the moment the Grumpy’s groupies are full on with the messages today to the point I am struggling to get my work done.

So enjoy the snippets as I say there are more and here are the ones from today:

My family support group we look after each other. Sort of

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

 

 

 

Attention to Care

So I have done it, I have commenced my own business called Attention to Care which is a Health and Social Care training company based in Cambridgeshire area.

I have a lovely website that is still in the process of being changed and altered, a face book page and business cards on the way (second time lucky as I missed the ‘n’ off).

So why?

Well I have worked within care for 28 years in some role whether support worker, manager or trainer/assessor I still see approaches that could potentially place people at risk. So I want to educate, value and nurture the carers/managers/employers to enable them to provide the ‘best’ service they can to vulnerable people. The way I know I can do that is deliver, bespoke and best quality training I possibly can.

Its been a while since I posted and a lot has happened, my father has been unwell and recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Emphysema. Which is rather a big deal and I am very aware that even though I deliver Dementia Training that I have to be just a daughter and sister when speaking to my family as I don’t want to be the one that has to inform them of everything as otherwise I believe it changes my relationship. Don’t think though that I don’t talk about it and support my family with information they need I just don’t speak like I am training.

This is a brief blog but will try to now get more completed and find resources to share on my blogs to try to support you carers out there.

Please check out my site and please share.

http://attentiontocare.co.uk/

Mother Day 

So this week has been one of those weeks that have caused stress and unrest within my world of work. I am freelance assessor within the care field and this weeks the company I freelance for may now need to change. It has implications as there is no guarantee the new company will want a freelance assessor so things are a little up in the air.

So what have a been doing to ensure work continues and I earn a living, well firstly I have kicked myself up the arse and pushed for my training to be fully completed with induction and moving and handling so I can go in to companies and train correct practice. I’ve been ensuring all my learners will be ok if I can not continue (I would be gutted). I have been organising the next couple of weeks to ensure I am on target and prepared to move forward.

Saturday I went to an open event at a new care home/nursing home where I chatted to some of the family and clients about why I value care and I loved it just promoting care and training. I met Gloria Hunniford (didn’t feel right to get a selfie).

Sunday arrives (Mother’s Day). My children as alway give me beautiful cards (daughter as always sorted the boys) and flowers. I then spent the day appreciating what I have the sun helped and my wonderful husband to be. Sat relaxing in the garden just chilling looking at our garden and realising how much work we have put in. It was so perfect, birds flitting in and out of the garden and the daffodils swaying in the breeze. The aroma of a roast dinner being cooked by my daughter and a glass of vino. I realised in that moment I am so lucky. I have children I am very proud of, a husband to be who loves me for me and a bright future ahead. Simplicity is sometimes best and as my man would say ‘simples’.

So the point to this was to try to get all to see that sometime ‘simples’ is enough and that if today you are missing your mum, whether due to them not being here anymore or if they are lost in the world of Dementia they will always be you mum, mummy, mother not your best friend your mum the one who either carried you or chose you, they are mums.

Mums come in all shapes and all sizes. They can be mothers, grandmother, aunts, sisters, friends or they can be Dads doing a mums role as well as their own. So please just take a moment to appreciate what you have, had or even what you are going to have.

Happy Mother’s Day one and all. But bigger then that don’t wait just for Mother’s Day to appreciate your ‘mother’ any day is ok to just say thank you.

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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