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Special times allow for reflection

Well, it’s been a while…. and now, as I have time for reflection on how far I have come, and what accomplishments I have made in my life journey, I would also like to acknowledge possibly one of the most important people in my life.

She taught me how to be strong, be true to myself, and stand up for what I believed in, despite taunts, belittlement and judgement; and I know, that even though she is not of this earthly plane any more, her energy and also her genetics are still running strong through and in me.

The reason I am writing today is because I am finally going through personal items that have been stored for some time.  These items have brought up mostly pleasant memories, however, there have been some items that have caused me to reflect and become quite teary.

I have been going through my poetry file – most of them written by me, and of which I may possibly never share as they were a means of expressing my feelings, in a constructive way and in a forum that was reflective for a period or experience that was difficult or joyous for me at the time.

However, this particular poem I will share – it was not written by me, and who knows how old dear “Alice” is now…..

I would like to acknowledge my Grandma – who always had the time for me to do the “little things” that were so important, and be with me in just the right way when I was feeling a little lost or alone.

Being with people is the most important thing…more than doing for ….

In these times of distance, remember your energy is universal, and can cut across miles and miles with  loving intention… Have you ever said to a loved one “Oh! I was just thinking about you!” when they called?  This is loving energy reaching out…. use it, and use it often, even for strangers you have never met, and especially for people that you may be having difficulty with. Unconditional love is universal, free and easy to manifest!

With much love, Bianca

What is a Grandma?

A Grandma is a lady who has no children of her own, so she likes other people’s children; little girls.

A Grandpa is a man Grandma; he goes walking with the boys and talks fishing and things like that.

Grandmas don’t have anything to do, except be there.  It is enough if they drive to the supermarket where there is a pretend horse, or to have lots of dinner ready.  And if they should take us for a walk, they slow down past pretty leaves and caterpillars.

They wear funny underclothes and can take their teeth and gums off.  They don’t have to be smart, only to answer questions like “why do dogs hate cats?” or “Why is it that God is not married?”

When they read to us, they don’t skip words, or mind it if it the same story again.

Everyone should try to have a Grandma, especially if they don’t have a TV, because Grandma’s are the only ones who have the time

Alice Greeves

8 years old

My blog for THIS time

My blogs are a little bit sporadic, and mostly just musings, but today I feel I need to share some news regarding upcoming changes to the way our health information is managed and distributed.

But first, let me muse a little :)……As with every person these days, time seems to run away from us – hence my heading… but do we really need to worry about anything else, except for this time, right now?

When supporting people living with dementia; mostly, the answer is no, we do not need to worry about any other moment except for this one right now… unless specifically asking about planning, and how to organise the day or moment to make the most out of a confusing world, please just concentrate on right now, and enjoy it, make it make sense and keep it real.

If you would like regular content, join my newsletter subscriber list to be able to see what I am up to, what information I am sharing and to ask me questions that I can answer and share with others, so we can all benefit.

And now the important stuff!…..

My Health Record – Online Health Information for all

By the end of 2018, a My Health Record will be created for every Australian, unless they choose not to have one.

As more people and their healthcare providers use the My Health Record system, Australia’s national health system will become better connected. This will result in faster and more efficient care for you and your family.

For more information, here is a link.

This will be fantastic for people living with dementia as in an emergency situation, often stress takes even simple memories away, such as a long time address or the name of a loved one who supports, or even their own name.  All information that is important can be listed in this one accessible record that is available by emergency services.  What a blessing.

If you don’t want a My Health Record, you will be able to opt out of having one created for you during a three-month period in 2018.

I have many ideas of how to keep yourself or your loved ones safe and how to make the best outcomes of time in hospital (not a pleasant time for anyone, let alone for one living with dementia!) Let me know what your thoughts and questions are around this and I will formulate my next blog around safety

LoveFest a hit! Big thank you Perth!

Thanks to all those involved in LoveFest Perth. It was a wonderful success, and many of us are still feeling the joy of such a supportive and inclusive event.  There is a resource booklet available on request for all living with and supporting those living with dementia, just contact me and I will send it to you.

In closing, as winter is coming fast to us, please be mindful of keeping warm and nourished, not only physically, but spiritually as well.  Winter is a time of isolation for many due to inclement weather, and keeping busy inside is often a challenge!  For the Spark of Life Core Spiritual Need of feeling needed and useful, my favourite pastime in this area is to ask for help peeling vegetables for soup or stews and then using a slow cooker to make the dish, enabling interaction with stirring and tasting as the day goes on – it’s amazing how satisfying this is to many!  And even if too many vegetables are peeled – it is a very cheap “activity” that occupies for a good length of time.

Stay warm and safe until the next time, with much love, Bianca

Love fest – It’s here in Perth!

Hello!

LoveFest is just around the corner now – only 2 more sleeps (Thursday May 3rd) – And I am so excited to be a part of it!

Please, if you can’t get to the festival – at least take the time to attend “The Kiss” exhibition , from Thurs May 3rd to Wednesday May 16 at Garden City Shopping Centre – I can’t wait to see all the beautiful reflections of love from these portraits.

There is still time to book your free ticket* for Thursday!

Attendees can expect to:

  1. Learn from people with dementia and their families about the challenges they experience and their strategies to strengthen interpersonal relationships
  2. Hear how letter writing can be a powerful tool for acknowledging the human experience of living with dementia and for educating community members and service providers
  3. Understand cultural influences on the experience of living with dementia
  4. Experience how Wu Tao can enhance the wellbeing of themselves and someone living with dementia
  5. Explore how belonging matters to people living with dementia – and how a sense of belonging can be fostered to promote wellbeing
  6. Identify how LoveFest activities can be utilised to generate support for improved services and more dementia friendly communities.

Program

9.30-10.00am: Registration

10.00-10.30: Welcome

  • ​Welcome to Country
  • Welcome from City of Melville
  • Welcome by June Lowe – Chair of GRAI
  • Welcome by Caroline Horlock, Department Manager Education and Consultancy, Alzheimer’s WA

10.30-11.00am: Why we must learn more about love

  • Dr Catherine Barrett, Museum of Love Curator: Catherine will outline the work being undertaken by the Museum of Love and the power of focusing on love as a tool for building dementia friendly communities.
  • Dr Ann Zubrick, Adjunct Professor Notre Dame University: Ann draws on her experiences as an academic and a volunteer visiting people with dementia to explore the concept of Small Acts of Love.

11.00am-12.30pm: Learning from people living with dementia including:

  • Tom Harmon: Tom will share his experience living with frontal lobe dementia
  • Wendy Glance: Wendy shares the ups and downs, challenges and blessings and ideas that she and her husband Keith have implemented to manage living as well as possible with younger onset dementia.
  • Dina and Krishan Shah: Dina and her son Krishan reflect on the experiences of Dina’s mum who was living in Kenya at the time of diagnosis. They will describe the cultural nuances that made Bena’s transition to Australia unique.
  • Cheryl Sorenson
  • Annie Lawrinson: Annie is a young artist will present her experiences of being a teenager when her dad was diagnosed with younger onset Dementia. Annie will share her art work and a film she featured in.

12.30-1.30pm: Lunch

1.30-2.30pm: Concurrent workshops

  • Emma Jack: Wu Tao Relaxation is a combination of beautiful movement, self massage and creative visualisations to bring balance, harmony and joy.
  • Dr Catherine Barrett, Lisa White and Iris Whitelock: Belonging will begin with reflections on Belonging Theory, then people with dementia will share what belonging means to them. The workshop will finish with participants moving as collective to highlight the power of belonging.

2.30-3.00pm: Afternoon tea

3.00-3.45pm: Learning from people with dementia

  • Emily and Chris Earnshaw: Emily and her mother Chris describe how they used art as a strategy to communicate with Chris’s mum Sylvia, who is a talented artist
  • Vicki Barry: Vicki will share the journey she and her husband have been on since his diagnosis of younger onset dementia and the possibilities for co-housing as an innovation for building support
  • The Costello Family: Sisters Diane Costello, Helga Arlidge and Deborah Costello describe how they used Facebook as a tool to provide the best possible care for their parents; and as a tool for supporting each other.

​3.45-4.00pm: Tools for change

  • How to take information from LoveFest to create change
  • Announcement regarding LoveFest Perth resource.

4.00pm: Close

* Registration is $120 for service providers or free for people living with dementia and family members – by ​emailing: director@celebrateageing.com

Book on Eventbrite.

Hope to see you there!

Until next time, I’m sending you all much love and many special hugs,
Bianca

Is it really Telstra calling?

Recently I have been receiving more and more calls from scammers on my home and mobile phone. I have a private unlisted number for my home and I am also on the Do Not Call Register. for all of my numbers, so it really intrigues me as to how they access my number or whether they are just dialing randomly.

This thought aside, as a person who is naturally suspicious and able to ask the right questions, my “Telstra technician” usually hangs up pretty quickly.

But what about those that are more vulnerable to the threats of disconnection that these people make?

If you are unsure, hang up and contact Telstra.

Also, if you are unsure of how to manage your computers internet settings, have a trusted person that you can rely on to manage them with you.

I have found this pamphlet online that may be of assistance

Is it really Telstra Calling

Come along to the Heart to Heart Connections Memorable Morning Tea on Thursday 15th February, 10am

The 3 grand essentials in life

  • Something to do
  • Something to love
  • Something to hope for

Joseph Addison

I would love to invite all people living with memory challenges and their supportive partners to come to this delightful cafe that will invoke many memories for us all.

Please see the flyer or contact me for more details.

I am so excited to be able to be running these delightful meetups!

Numbers are increasing, so RSVP would be appreciated so that catering can be guaranteed

Heart to Heart Connections Memorable Morning Tea

mmt

Designing Christmas Dementia Style

Christmas is a great celebration time for family, loved ones, friends, children, pets and it seems any other living object that can get involved in the festivities.

The more that social media becomes involved in our lives, it seems that we have to take more and more pics to prove to everyone that we are having a great time.  Remember that being with someone at Christmas is about time spent with loved ones, cherishing life and enjoying the moment, then sharing and reliving these colourful, funny or emotional moments from different points of view at a later time.

Recently when speaking with one of my beautiful friends Kathleen who is living with dementia, we were talking about the “epidemic of Christmas” (her words).  When we were concluding our conversation, her final words were –“Love & Kindness needs to be the epidemic”. Truer words could not be spoken.

For a person living with dementia, it is very often noisy, overwhelming and exhausting.

Let’s look at just a few little ideas on how we can make this Christmas more memorable, loving and kind for a person living with dementia.

  • Keep background noise to a minimum – Christmas Carols are great, but not all day and night, and not whilst we are trying to concentrate on conversation and remembering our relationships with our loved ones.  How about a few carols at the beginning and the end of the celebration?  Keep me safe in a quieter area of the room, and give me a space to have time out if needed – a “little rest”during the day is a wonderful break for me to rekindle my thoughts and energy.
  • Name Memory Aids – We all struggle at times to remember names and relationships.  Name memory aids are a great way for everyone to glance and remember names – that is when the automatic connection comes in regarding relationships.  If relationships are not being recognised any more, bring it into your conversation somehow, or just be straight out with it.  “Hi, I’m Bianca, your neighbour from number 16”, for example.
  • Presents – Usually a person living with dementia delights more in experiences in the moment rather than expensive or gifts that have no meaning. Remember that the Christmas celebration is overwhelming enough, let alone all the presents.  Try celebrating all throughout the year rather than just one day.  Make a roster with your family, friends and loved ones for small visits rather than all at once.  These are the gifts that will live on forever.

Wishing you love and kindness, and all the joy of a beautiful New Year ahead.

Bianca from Heart to Heart Connections

Come along to the Heart to Heart Connections Memorable Morning Tea on Thursday 26th October, 10am

The 3 grand essentials in life

  • Something to do
  • Something to love
  • Something to hope for

Joseph Addison

I would love to invite all people living with memory challenges and their supportive partners to come to this delightful cafe that will invoke many memories for us all.  Please see the flyer or contact me for more details. I am so excited to be able to be running these delightful meetups!

Numbers are increasing, so RSVP would be appreciated so that catering can be guaranteed

Heart to Heart Connections Memorable Morning Tea

mmt

Delirium is NOT dementia

 

For those of you who know me, you will recall me constantly saying that hospitals are not places for people living with dementia.  If we can avoid hospitals with good lifestyle and health choices, fantastic – but sometimes we really need to be there with and for our loved ones.

Remembering that there are over 100 manifestations of dementia and that every person living with dementia experiences things differently, I say this with the utmost grace and respect – hospital workers (and I was one of them) have limited knowledge of what living with dementia REALLY is.

From my latest venture into the hospital environment, and despite hearing of ongoing staff education and advertising that hospitals are now becoming dementia friendly, not much has changed in the way someone living with dementia is perceived.

Please note that I am not saying that the beautiful people attending to my loved one were not kind, well-meaning, and trying to do their best in a very difficult critical circumstance.  They were.

What I’m saying here is can we please stop concentrating on and blaming the diagnosis of Dementia when there is so much else going on in this environment?

Here’s my story….

My beautiful friend who was living well with moderate to advanced dementia was normally conversant, mobile, had a sense of humour; and although they had a diagnosis of dementia, their general health and well-being was remarkably good.  My friends  spirit was strong, and they had a good sense of who they were in our world.  They were aware of their dementia and the limitations that it caused them most of the time.  The biggest thing with my friend was that the triggers to bathe, nourish themselves and handle money were marred. Also, their concept of depth perception and balance was a little bit off.

Recently my friend experienced a fall.  Unfortunately, this caused a fracture of the neck of femur, commonly known as a fractured hip.

When admitted to hospital, my friend was in incredible pain and delirious with it.  This delirium, even though somewhat managed with some pain medication, was also seen as their “symptoms of dementia”, and even though my friend had never “displayed” the “behaviours” that staff were now experiencing as being part of  their dementia previous to the admission, such as hallucinations, calling out, swearing, becoming aggressive with staff and general agitation, the general consensus was that these “behaviours” were a part of the dementia.

On top of this, my friend was not hydrated well prior to the admission because of the forgetfulness that they experienced in maintaining self-hydration, therefore increasing the delirium and possibly, their pain.

The other issue was that my friend had no immediate family or guardian that the hospital could call on to sign papers for surgical intervention; prolonging pain, delirium, dehydration and now postponing surgical intervention until papers were signed.

Moving forward, papers were finally signed, the operation was carried out and my friend was returned to the general orthopaedics ward – into a room that was initially not monitored, leaving my friend in their post-operative state (and probably worse state of delirium) to remove their catheter and intravenous fluid that was sustaining them.  Again, the dementia was blamed for this – as well as some acknowledgement of “postoperative delirium”.

It was at this time that my friend said to me that they were not going to make it, this was the end.

In my thoughts, these words meant my spirit is broken, no one is listening

More pain management medication was introduced, and then of course came the loss of swallow reflex due to the sedative effects of medication, and the sign for “nil by mouth” to be hung on their door, increasing the dehydrated state, and subsequent increased delirium and now also a heavily sedated person.

Luckily, my friend’s spirit was incredibly strong – their condition improved and their ability to swallow therefore returned, so much that they were eating and drinking well… but their cognition was nowhere near close to what it was prior to their admission, and their capacity for self preservation was non-existent, leading to decline once again.

At this stage, my friend was not in a good way, and comfort measures were introduced to enable them to move gracefully into end of life.

The hospital commenced making plans for my friend to return home.

In a standard cognitive environment,  such as in a person without dementia – returning home would not have been considered at this stage.  The person was not cognisant to their normal way of being, their mobility was impaired – actually non existent, and their was no rehabilitative process in place.

In other words, there was no hope for this person to return to their former way of being.

My point is that I am not looking at the way that the person was treated medically, as this was accomplished with the utmost professionalism, respect and dignity; but the lack of knowing who the person was (the person’s spirit) prior to their admission to hospital and not acknowledging concerns by the people supporting them expressing that the “behaviour” was not normal for them markedly prolonged the amount of time taken for the comfort, treatment and rehabilitation of the person for a medical issue, and gave them no hope of returning to their prior way of being, just because of their dementia.

Please, if you are advocating for a person living with dementia and the “behaviour” that your loved one is “displaying” is not normal for their own personal experiences of living with dementia, speak up! And keep doing so until someone listens. It may be the point of difference in what treatments will be administered, and also enable prompt interventions for comfort and peace if this is what is needed.

And humbly, all I ask of the health care professionals is – If you are working with a person living with dementia in a way that is supporting their health and wellbeing, please work not only with the person living with dementia, but with families and loved ones to explore what is REALLY the persons own individual way of being with their dementia LOOK FURTHER than the diagnosis – look at the whole person and who they are…….

Please don’t blame the dementia.

With much love, Bianca

P.S. In my next blog, I’m going to give you some hints on how to support a loved one living with dementia in a hospital environment.

P.P.S – Just in case you were wondering….my “inverted commas” above mean that these words are general phrases used regarding a person living with dementia and what I prefer to call expressions of unmet needs

I am very happy to support you in any way possible to enable the wellbeing of people living with dementia in hospital or at home.  Please contact me for any queries.

If you have a friend or relative who is working their way through a medical or nursing degree, please share this article with them.  Sharing empowers knowledge of peoples true stories. And from this, there may be a better understanding that we can look past the diagnosis of Dementia and truly see the person for who they are – looking into the true essence of that person.

Come along to the Heart to Heart Connections Memorable Morning Tea on Tuesday 25th July, 10am

The 3 grand essentials in life

  • Something to do
  • Something to love
  • Something to hope for

Joseph Addison

I would love to invite all people living with memory challenges and their supportive partners to come to this delightful cafe that will invoke many memories for us all.  Please see the flyer or contact me for more details. I am so excited to be able to be running these delightful meetups!

Numbers are increasing, so RSVP would be appreciated so that catering can be guaranteed

Memorable Morning Tea, Joondalupmmt

Looking for an aged care home for your loved one? Read this!

He is happiest, be he king or peasant, that finds his peace in his home.

Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

Over the last year of my practice, I have supported many seniors and their families in preparing for and finding a residential facility that was “just right” for them.

This is usually after much discussion on when is the right time, and hopefully before a crisis eventuates, so that the move is planned well and with ease rather than hastily and without much choice of where to go – hence only moving once to get to the place you would like to be to live out the rest of your life if and when you can no longer live on your own.

This takes time; and as well as looking at the costs associated with living well in a facility (such as medications, extra services, what is included, etc), really knowing what the preferences of the person are prior to moving into a facility are so important, especially when weighing up which facility is going to be the best fit.

Here’s an example:-

My client Margy (not her real name) was moving into residential care. This was after a long and trusting relationship with a home care provider had given her a safe environment to live in, but had come to the end of it’s time due to Margy’s need for 24 hour care due to her increasing needs and for her safety relating to falls and nutrition.

Margy had always been very independent and lived a life where household duties were a large part of her daily activities, so when we started looking for a facility for her, her main concerns were around being able to continue to do what she had always done – cooking, washing, cleaning, gardening.

After a reply from one admissions team stating “we do not think she would be suitable for permanent residential care where these type of tasks are carried out by staff members” was crossed off our list (- so much for consumer directed care in residential facilities!), we then went ahead with narrowing down our list of facilities that were willing to enable Margy in still doing what she loved, even if in small ways and with support.

Many facilities were deemed “suitable” for Margy in this regard from the admissions point of view, but until we viewed the residences with Margy in attendance, we could not commit to “signing the dotted line” with peace in our hearts.  This is because although the facilities were saying that this is what they were happy to do, were they doing it in a way that was enabling (or disabling) Margy?  Did the place make her heart sing?

One of Margy’s very astute observations of the right place for her was that “everyone was smiling – even the ones in the bedchairs” (in her own words).

Eventually we found a beautiful facility, one where the staff understood the importance of Margy’s needs, enabling her to be independent with support, to have her own space when needed, allowing her to have the privacy and security of her own keys for her room, but not be locked in and being part of a bigger community.

Wait-listing prior to needing immediate fulltime care, avoiding crisis and having the discussion of what is REALLY important to the person moving into residential care is so important.

Then you have time to view facilities, work out what is going to suit and narrow down your list.  For best results, my aim is for this to be organised in advance as when beds become available, they are very quickly taken up, often with not much time to consider all of the things that are important – often resulting in a poor fit for the client

To discuss more in depth ways of how to go about this, or to get your free Residential Aged Care Check list, please contact me.

With much love and Warmest Regards, Bianca