Category Archives: Wellbeing

Autumn focus on Alzheimer’s

Former Southampton GP Jennifer Bute was shocked when patients started kissing her. Later she realised the patient who’d hugged her was a friend.

‘Soon after, I wouldn’t recognise people I had known for 20 years,’ she said, ‘then I started getting lost along familiar routes. That was kind of how it all started.’

JOURNEY OF HOPE

Dr Bute (pictured) is now one of 50 million people in the world with dementia. With a vibrant Christian faith, she has written a book Dementia From The Inside: A Doctor’s Personal Journey Of Hope – and gives talks about her experiences.

She regards dementia as ‘a God-given unexpected gift’ and even ‘a glorious opportunity’ – which is the name of her website – to understand this global, hurting community.

Dr Bute’s story is shared in the World Alzheimer Report 2018, published recently by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) on World Alzheimer’s Day, 21st September.

ADI hope their report will increase awareness and spark a debate which will lead to more governments and businesses dedicating funds and focus to help people with dementia – and their families – live better lives.

September was World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign that raises awareness and challenges the stigma surrounding dementia. There are more than 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia – yet many people have little or no understanding of the illness.

HELP AVAILABLE

Independent Age have published a useful factsheet called Living With Dementia that looks at the different types of dementia and the help that’s available.

Being diagnosed with dementia can come as a shock and can be very distressing for people as well as their families. Independent Age hope their factsheet will help people understand what dementia is and where to get support.

Churches can aid people with dementia

CEO SPECIAL REPORT: My role as MMHS’s Chief Exec takes me on interesting explorations from time to time. Recently I had the pleasure of learning about the life-enhancing interplay between music and dementia.

COMPLETE PRIVILEGE

Having attended the main hearing of the House of Lords Commission on Dementia and Music chaired by Baroness Sally Greengross, I was invited to the subsequent celebration of the launch of the Report in the House. What a complete privilege it was to hear experts talk on the subject – and at the celebration, listen to a wonderful choir of people with dementia singing their socks off led by Dame Lesley Garrett!

The Utley Foundation have been pioneers in championing the benefits of music-based interventions for people with dementia. In 2017, ILC-UK (a think-tank which seeks to impact on policy to do with longevity, ageing and population change) was asked on behalf of the Foundation to set up the world’s first Commission on Dementia and Music.

What did I learn?

At present, not enough people in the UK benefit from interventions. For example, educated estimates suggest that high quality arts and music provision may currently only be available in just five per cent of care homes. Music brings dementia sufferers to life. It allows many to relax and communicate with their carers and families for the first time in years.

The commission has identified that interventions can take place in the home, theatres, town halls, specialist units and care homes. It was a pleasure for me to learn that MHA employ music therapists as part of their specialist dementia care across the UK.

PERFECTLY PLACED

I would add churches to the above list of places. Churches are perfectly placed to be part of the change that is needed. What can you – I – do in our church? I shall end with a quote from a freelance opera singer, Demelza Stafford, who for more than ten years has sung therapeutic concerts in hospitals and care homes:

‘As we perform, we see reactions from visitors and carers too, often completely overwhelmed at seeing loved ones interact in ways they haven’t for months, years even. Carers are often moved to tears when residents who can’t usually engage or speak, manage to sing every word, tap a toe or even find their way to their feet to dance.’

What’s age got to do with it?

Meet the lay preacher who wrote a book at 100 years of age because he couldn’t stand long enough to preach, and the 95-year-old who organised local church support for his care home.

They and others feature in Louise Morse’s book What’s Age Got to Do with It?, which offers a scriptural view of old age. Published by Monarch, the book challenges the thinking that being old is about retreating to a rocking chair and easy lifestyle.

CHANGING MINDS

Media and Communications Manager for Pilgrim Homes, Louise explains how God set in motion times, seasons and the ageing process. But many see themselves as ‘useless’ and are afraid of being a burden. Ageism has destroyed their self-image and expectations.

The author shows how to live the way God intended. Among her evidence, Louise cites social psychologist Ellen Langer who dared to ask the question, ‘Could we change our physical health by changing our minds?’ Dr Langer and her team devised ‘the Counterclockwise Study’. They took groups of eight men in their 80s on a week-long retreat in a house that had been retrofitted and taken back to 1959. They were to go back in time, to live in that year, not discussing anything after 1959.

ARTHRITIS DIMINISHED

People came out of the experience with their hearing and their memory – even the strength of their grip – significantly improved. Fingers lengthened as arthritis diminished and they had greater manual dexterity. There were improvements in height, weight, gait, posture, and scores in intelligence tests. ‘I’ve come to believe less and less that biology is destiny,’ said Dr Langer. ‘It’s not primarily our physical selves that limit us, but rather our mindsets about our physical limits…We must ask ourselves if any of the limits we perceive as real do exist.’

Be wise through winter

Winter brings extra challenges for us all. And it’s not just severe weather that causes problems. Even average winter temperatures can affect our health.

A new updated guide Winter Wise from Independent Age offers advice on staying healthy, safe and warm – as well as information about help with higher winter fuel costs. Many of the tips will seem like common sense. However, it’s a good idea to think about them, to make sure we have everything we need as the cold weather continues.

Winter Wise is aimed at the wider population in England, so there are one or two points that don’t apply directly to MMHS residents. For instance, the guide reminds people to get their boiler serviced. The Society is responsible for ensuring all gas heating and hot water systems are serviced annually for our residents. We monitor this closely to ensure contractors comply with this requirement. Section 4 of the Tenants’ Handbook gives clear guidance on work to be included when a service is carried out – together with contact details in the event of a breakdown.

Click here for a free download of Independent Age’s Winter Wise. Print copies are available from Independent Age. Alternatively, contact Independent Age by post or phone – Independent Age, 18 Avonmore Road, London W14 8RR, tel 020 7605 4200.

How to tech care

We all know we’re surrounded by a whole world of technology. But do we know it could help make life easier when caring for someone?

According to Carers UK, simple devices and apps can help someone live independently for longer. To equip and inform you, Carers UK have supplied us with their guide What Can Tech Do For You? – which you can download here or visit the Carers UK website.

Many of us use technology in our everyday lives. But seven out of ten people don’t think of technology when it comes to caring.

Why not use it to help you take care of your loved one? You could set up one or two devices or applications – or even a larger system that is connected to you and other carers.

Use community transport

What if we don’t have access to cars, taxis or buses? Well, don’t worry – try community transport.

Ranging from car schemes to minibuses, these can be a lifeline in both rural and urban areas.

Community transport takes disabled people to work, children to school, sick people to healthcare and older people to the shops. Click on this link to find schemes in your area. (Photo: Clive Price)

 

Fighting fit for life

Some of us might notice it’s taking longer to get to the bus stop than it used to. For others, perhaps our weekly supermarket shop takes longer than before.

These can be signs that we’ve started slowing down. If that’s the case, we can take some steps to make sure we’re still on the move.

Here’s a guide to help us improve our health and general fitness and get us back in control.

 

Let’s think about our food

Remember to eat well. This is important as we get older.

There are certain foods we should try to eat – and others we should limit or avoid. We should also watch our weight, cut down on salt and make sure we prepare and store food safely.

But most important of all, we should also make sure we actually enjoy our food! Here are some guidelines. (Photo: Clive Price)

Take a break

We all know a change is as good as a rest. That’s especially true if you’re a carer.

If you provide care for a relative, friend or neighbour, there’ll be times when you need to take a break.

You may wish to attend appointments or simply take time out. Which? explains the respite care options available, how to choose and finance this type of care, and what benefits it can offer you and the person you care for. (Photo: Clive Price)