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

International Day of Happiness

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. 

Aesop

Today, the 20th of March is International Happiness Day.

It comes with a little sadness in my heart that we have to be reminded to be happy, and only for one day – but the team from Action for Happiness have certainly made it easy this year to celebrate and encourage many actions for happiness.

In my experience when working with people living with dementia, it is an innate need to be happy, and to support others to feel happy too. Our spirit is driven to happiness in many unique ways, and ultimately it is another way of saying “I REALLY care about being here with you!”

“Well-being” is fast becoming the buzzword that we hear in every facet of supporting the elderly and disabled, but “happiness” seems to be a factor of well-being that is often overlooked in the planning of support for clients. Bearing this in mind, it is up to us to advocate for our loved ones and stand up for happiness. Let everyone know what makes your loved one laugh, smile, giggle, get in touch with their inner child and be free to be unconditionally happy. And remember, it does not take a lot of effort to do this – It is often the small things that bring out the smiles!

Today, I have a pocket full of Compliment Cards to hand out to whomever I meet; it doesn’t matter if they are a stranger, lover, co-worker, acquaintance, friend or foe – my aim today is to empty my pockets and fill others hearts with joy (which is my aim every day – but hey, why not do it on a much more physical level for a change?). Today I choose to find time to lose myself in what I love – Supporting people just to be happy.

Have a brilliant day. With much love, Bianca

 

 

Making the move

I have just received a message from one of my former clients daughters, who has recently made the decision to move her mother to residential care after much deliberation and mixed feelings.
It was a hard decision and very emotional, as she knew her mum loved her own place, but as Sylvia was becoming more and more isolated, and her well-being was becoming compromised, she accepted a place at a local residence not far from her home.
Today, Sylvia has rekindled her interest in art, and her daughter now knows that she has made the right decision to keep her mums spark ignited and her spirit strong, as well as encouraging new relationships and being part of a community of people that love her.
The move to Residential Care can be difficult to contemplate. If you are struggling with how and when to do this, please know that I am here to support you.

This also coincides beautifully with My collaboration with Art Therapist Maree, who will be holding Art Expressions sessions at my place in Two Rocks  from the 24th of April.

With much love, Bianca

Memories from objects

“Memory is a child walking along a seashore.  You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.”
–  Pierce Harris

 

We preserve the past and speak to the future through the things we treasure and the memories they evoke.

From this, when working with loved ones living with dementia and invoking memories, using objects is a great start.

When using objects, it doesn’t matter if the name of the item isn’t remembered, or what the object is used for, so asking what or why is often frustrating to start with- once the memories start flowing, this may come.  Use questions such as “How does this speak to you?”, “What do you feel when you hold this?” or “I  bet this brings back some thoughts, tell me about this…”

When out and about in the community, so many experiences are made for the person living with dementia only or their supportive partner only, so the experiences of positive interactions with the world between couples are often lost.  Many of the couples that I have worked with say that this is what they miss the most – the opportunity to do things together to initiate joy, new conversations and happy memories together.

Here in Perth, Western Australia, the Western Australian Museum is offering Objects and Memories Tours for people living with dementia and their supportive partners.

I also hold Memorable Morning teas every 3 months to encourage couples and families to utilise Memory friendly Cafes.  See my Events page for the next dates.

I would love to know of other businesses or entities around the world that are enabling people living with dementia to have the opportunity to remain engaged with the community in a supportive environment, whilst also enabling their support partners to experience the positive outcomes of these experiences by being able to join them.

To work with me as a couple living with dementia and how to move forward with positive intent or to find out more about my Memorable Morning Teas, click here.

To return to my home page, click here

 

Come along to the Heart to Heart Connections Memorable Morning Tea on Wednesday 7th March, 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 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

Decisions from the Heart

The secret of change is not to focus all of our energy on fighting the old

but on building the new.

Socrates

It is hard work being a person living with dementia – it is just as hard being a supportive partner of a person living with dementia.

When we work together and try to understand each other, things flow more smoothly, and we can usually come to some form of agreement as to how to live our lives in harmony, but it takes work and great communication skills!

Today, I am talking about an issue that comes with the middle to late stages of dementia, usually when people are starting to use more actions and body language than the use of words to form sentences, or perhaps words are becoming more jumbled, such as using the word “cup” when the person actually means “saucer”.  This is a very frustrating time for both parties.

Let’s take a look at this situation for example:-

I (as the person living with dementia) want to keep something that is “worthless” to everyone else but me…for example, a broken ornament, toy or worn out item of clothing or accessory, such as a wallet or handbag.

EVERYONE is telling me it is old, unsightly, unhygienic and we need to get a new one or get rid of it, but I am sticking to my guns! I am NOT getting rid of this, and it is upsetting that you can’t see the value of it, and I can’t explain how much this means to me or why I want to keep it – just that it’s MINE and I am not letting go of it!

Let’s look at the two different perspectives…..

From the person living with dementia’s point of view:-  I love this item.  It invokes so many memories and feelings for me, but I may not be able to recall them.  It just makes me feel GOOD or I might use it again sometime – it has a use, and it is familiar to me.

From the supportive partner’s point of view:-  This item is not worth anything, it looks disgusting, and what will people think if I take my loved one out with this item, when I know that we already have another just like it, or we can purchase another to replace it.

Discernment is the key – And one question…Does it really matter?  Is the item THAT important that it has to be disposed of straight away? If not, either decide to let it go completely as your problem as the supportive partner, discarding the attachment to the item from your point of view. If it is REALLY that important, work on it slowly, with compassion and understanding from the other person’s point of view…so on to how to do this…

Let’s look at the strategies and is the strategy we’re about to use going to be effective?

When we attempt to resolve something – it is seen as a problem that needs fixing , we are taking action to solve a problem– if we break up this word “RE”– meaning do again, and “SOLVE” – meaning effectively dealing with a problem.  If we try to resolve things, we are effectively redoing the solving of a problem again and again – it will become a bigger problem if we keep doing things this way– this gives us no room to move forward and think of a legitimate reason for a person “acting” in this way.  I.E.  Here is a problem – let’s fix it.  Dementia and fixing does not work – for me (as a person living with dementia), it leads to thoughts of failure. It is an all or nothing approach which gives me no control over choices and therefore, I will assert my choice to keep the item, whether I am willing to let it go or not- and the more you approach me this way, the more I will collect and hide things because now I know you will start “stealing” from me to get rid of things you see as not important or useless.

Intentions however, have a much more compassionate energy. Because they don’t tie us to an outcome, they simply ask that we think about our actions and make efforts to do our best –actions done in this way are viewed with less criticism.  If your intent is to rid the person living with dementia of that item eventually because it actually is unhygienic or that a new one has been purchased to replace, start out with that intent – talk openly with the person living with dementia in short sentences and for a brief time.  Show your heart to them whilst you are doing this, and let them know that when they are ready, you have a gift for them (do not bring up why you are replacing this item!), that the item you have purchased may not be the same as the one that they have, or feel the same, but you want to be sure, that when the time comes to replace the used one, that they are comfortable with it. If the item is met with resistance, take it away, and start over on another day and time, when the person living with dementia is feeling comfortable about talking about it again.

When we do things this way, we can both begin again, without getting caught up in judgement about ourselves.  We can simply move on, realising that the next moment is a brand new moment and tomorrow is a brand new day.  We can always start again.  With intentions, our focus is not on what we want to “fix”, but rather what we want to create.  Long term, that’s a much more effective strategy to meeting our goals together

Perhaps place the new item side by side with the old one, and leave it at that – letting your loved one living with dementia know that it is their choice to decide if and when the old one should go.

There are so many ways to work with this, and because every person with dementia is as different as every other person in the world, there will be specific ways that you as a supportive partner “knows” intuitively what works and what doesn’t – use your knowledge.  To work with me on ideas on how to do this, please contact me.