September is World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign every September to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia.
Here’s Rosie’s story, who cared for her husband Den who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“I found the Carers’ Centre about six years ago –I was referred by my GP. I was caring 24/7 for my husband Den, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and on top of that I had a very difficult full-time job. There was a week when I had come down with a cold – just a cold – and it was just the absolute end of the tether for me. I was exhausted. I didn’t know what to do with Den or how to manage being unwell for a few days. I think that was the point for me when I thought I needed to get some support.
“The first thing the Carers’ Centre did for me was to send me to Ammerdown, a wellness centre, for a 24 hour respite. It was just incredible. I had a bath. I went for a walk. It sounds silly but when you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, telling them you’re going up to have a bath doesn’t mean anything. It’s just not possible. Continue reading Alzheimer’s Awareness Month: Rosie’s Story→
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, about two thirds of people living with dementia in the UK are living at home – usually with the support of a relative or friend who is their carer.
Looking after someone with dementia – the umbrella term for degenerative brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s – can be incredibly upsetting, isolating and painful. But there is help, support and understanding available that can make things a little easier to cope with.
Founder of Singing for the Brain, Chreanne Montgomery-Smith, said “people hear and read so much about dementia in terms of a decline and the progression of symptoms – that is by far the overwhelming narrative – but people with dementia show us every day that it is possible to live well and to have a progression of hope.”
Ruth Holbrook, who looks after her husband Maurice (both pictured above) has been involved with the Carers’ Centre and other local services since Maurice’s diagnosis. Because Ruth had worked in health and social care, she knew what support was available. Continue reading Living Well with Dementia→
We were delighted to hear that two carers we work with were recognised at this year’s Bath Chairman’s Awards. Fiona Carr was awarded Carer of The Year after being nominated by her husband John, who she looks after.
John said “Fiona is my wife but also my carer. More importantly she puts the ‘care’ into caring. I always knew that she was a very special lady but since she has been my carer, she has shown this in so many different ways. I had a very serious stroke three years ago. Initially I could not walk, talk or even swallow. I realised that I had a long road of rehabilitation ahead of me. I knew that I could do this with Fiona at my side.
“When I was in hospital she kept my spirits up by visiting me twice a day, every day without fail. Today my life has been changed forever and is very challenging. However, Fiona has helped me adjust to this. I can honestly say that because of her support, I live a fulfilling life. She enables me to attend the local stroke group, cook at Manvers Street Baptist Café and even cycle with the local cycle group. With her ready smile, quick wit and always thinking of others, she is an inspiration to everyone who meets her”.
It’s one of the ironies of life that if you ask someone if they know an unpaid carer, they’ll often say no. Even when they’re sat next to the person they look after.
That’s the situation that sometimes faces Carer Hub volunteer Kevin O’Callaghan, who helps support carers at the Royal United Hospital in Bath. People rarely want to sing their own praises, he finds, or ask for help.
But life is full of surprises and when I go to visit Kevin in the hospital atrium, we are immediately met by a couple from Wiltshire. The husband is looking after his wife and his mother and, though in good humour, seems tired and in need of somewhere to turn.
Making a referral to his local carers centre is easily done, but it’s not always the case. Kevin has found that some people can be defensive, especially if they think you want money. Luckily, with his 34 years in sales and marketing at BT, Kevin is quickly able to diffuse the issue.
Young carer Becca, 10, helps to look after her mum who has Fibromyalgia. The family, via the Carers’ Centre, were approached by the Comic Relief team who wanted to make a short film to capture what life is like for young carers — and we think they did brilliantly!
We are incredibly proud of Becca and all our young carers and hope this video can shed a little bit of light on what it’s like for young carers living in Britain today.
The film highlights the difference between Becca’s day and the day of one of her friends, Izzy, who isn’t a young carer.
As a thank you Comic Relief took Becca and her family to watch Blue Peter live!
Q: My mum has recently been diagnosed with dementia and I’m finding it difficult to know how to respond when she behaves out of character or says things that I know aren’t true. I was wondering if there is anything I can read or any training I could do that might help me learn how to deal with this?
Many carers find it difficult to know what to do when a loved one with dementia begins to act differently. We’ve put together some advice for communicating and where to find more information.
Try to make sure you’re being as clear as possible when speaking to someone with dementia.
Use names, i.e. saying ‘it’s me, Jane,’ rather than ‘it’s me.’
Speak in a warm tone and give them extra time to respond to you.
Try giving options instead of open questions, such as ‘would you like chicken or beef for dinner?’ rather than ‘what would you like for dinner?’
Use non-verbal cues like pictures and touch.
Don’t quibble over mistakes or even delusions the person might have, instead try deflecting to a new topic.
If you’d have told me this time last year that in a few weeks’ time I’d be running a half marathon, there’s no way I would’ve believed you. Added to that, that I’ll have raised over £350 for the Carers’ Centre, and I definitely would’ve spent days wandering around in a haze of disbelief. This time last year I hadn’t been running in over two years, never really having picked it up properly, and I certainly wasn’t exercising regularly. That’s why it would’ve been an alien idea to me a year ago to run the Bath Half Marathon this March — I simply wouldn’t have thought myself capable of it.
Our Bath Carers’ Centre, Woodlands, is now re-opened! Closed for four weeks to allow for some much needed refurbishment, we’re back in business and looking bright and shiny.
The Carers’ Centre purchased Woodlands in 2015, with the help of a social investment loan, to provide a permanent place for Carers in Bath and surrounds. Since then, Woodlands has been our home in Bath and has been host to two Bath Half cheer stations, a sponsored walk, young carers family days, pizza nights, a massage workshop, willow weaving and a whole programme of free breaks and activities! Continue reading Woodlands Re-Opened After Refurb→
Our annual awards ceremony was held in October and once again the event was hosted by the fantastic Ali Vowles of the BBC. It was a chance to recognise our unsung heroes: carers, volunteers, and partners and to look back over what we’ve achieved this year.
The evening was made possible by the generosity of Sirona Care & Health and by our other wonderful sponsors; Bath College, Curo, Gerrard Financial Consulting, Gradwell Communications, Minuteman Press Bath and Way Ahead Care. Continue reading Celebrating Carers 2016 – the results!→
News and views from Bath North East Somerset Carers Centre