Tuesday, 12 December 2017

5 Caring4Elders Top Tips for all our friends this Festive Season

Be prepared to care this Christmas by following "Betty & Liz" 5  x top tips when considering your elderly relatives and friends

Informal caring can be difficult at any time and even more so at busy holiday times when there are so many calls on care givers’ time and energy.  Our 5 top tips are designed to help you check for any changes that suggest more care is needed to help your loved ones be safe, happy and keep independent.  So, as well as reconnecting and enjoying precious family times together, work your way through our Christmas Prepared to Care top tips: 

1.  Take time to listen.   Older people can often be left out of family chat, they may be hard of hearing or the conversation may go too quickly for them.  Many people also find it difficult to talk about their worries and fears.  Sometimes people feel more able to talk about personal issues when they are not making eye contact, for example when walking together or carrying out joint tasks.  So, involve elderly people in present wrapping, sprout peeling and washing up and take the opportunity to have some quality talk.
2. Check for change.   Put on your Sherlock hat and check for any signs that may show your relative has health or other issues that are not being addressed.  Is medication organised, up-to-date and being taken? When was the last dental or opticians’ check?  Age related macular degeneration is treatable when caught early but otherwise can lead to blindness.   How is your relative’s balance/memory/weight/hygiene?  Are there letters from the GP, hospital, or other service which indicates that all is not well?   Are there any new ‘friends’ on the scene who might be taking advantage of your relative/?
3. Do a house audit.  While you are there check that your relatives home is being maintained.  How is security – door locks and window catch in good order and being used?  Would an outside security light be helpful?   Are there ‘lights on timers’ for when your loved ones are out of the house?  Are there trip hazards, loose mats, frayed carpets, dodgy slippers?  Are everyday items in easy reach?   Are mobility aids working correctly?  Are there any adjustments, for example walk in showers, easy turn taps that would make everyday life easier?  Is the house warm? Do any of the jobs that you have been asked to do suggest that regular extra help with everyday chores is needed?
4. Finances. Are there unopened bills? Check bank statements to ensure no unusual transactions. Is money left around the house?  Do unauthorised people have access to cards/pin numbers?  Is your loved one at risk from identity theft?
5. Connect with neighbours.  Take the opportunity to go and see neighbours. They are on the spot and many ‘keep an eye out’ for elderly local people.  It’s a good moment to thank them for their help and make sure they have up to date contact details for you in case of emergencies.  A small gift is a nice way of showing your appreciation.  Make sure too that you have up to date contact details for your relative’s GP, neighbours and friends. Do look into Personal Alarms as a reliable method for elderly people to contact others . Most Councils offer a system as well as the  large range of models available through charities and private providers. Wearing a pendant round the wrist or neck means that the elderly person can make contact from anywhere in the house and garden.
 Season's Greetings 🎅

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Norbert Researches Medical facilities

Julia brought through the cup of tea to discover Norbert in the chair and not feeling at all well, but not sure what the problem was. At 90 he has times of the day when he doesn't feel great, but this was different. Julia did all the checks for a stroke and no apparent signs, so she suggested they go to the Dr. Norbert didn't feel well enough to travel, so his 81 year old wife was quick to call the paramedics.

They quickly identified a possible heart attack and an ambulance was called to transport Norbert to the main hospital on the Isle of Wight. A blocked artery was diagnosed and a planned helicopter trip to Southampton, but this was cancelled in favour of transport by ambulance the following day.
Meantime, Julia hosted the planned supper with 4. David, the neighbour benefited from Nobert's portion as his wife was away.

Their daughter travelled to the Island to support Julia as well as to visit Norbert. She couldn't believe it when Southampton Hospital confirmed that the insertion of a stent had solved the problem and the following day they transported Norbert home to the Isle of Wight. He was so frustrated that he and Julia had cancelled their planned trip to Spain! Would they really fly him? we'll never know. He was impressed by the response on the Isle of Wight and in Southampton. Every reason to live there in your 90s!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Douglas and Deb - the Dream Team!

Douglas was 94 in March. Amazing as the family were all called to the bedside a couple of years ago for his final moments. He recovered and lives independently in his 4 bed home.
When his regular cleaner left his daughter Alison identified a friend in need of some income and suggested she might be suitable. From April Deb went a couple of times a week to clean for Douglas.

Douglas is a former teacher. He uses e-mail and manages all of his affairs but relies heavily on his daughter Carol 200 metres down the road for daily social contact. Carol and Alison were delighted that the twice a week visits from Deb relieved Carol of her visits from her father. She thinks he is great, but every day was a bit much.

Douglas announced that as well as cleaning the house Deb would be happy to tidy the garden, so her time with him has increased. In conversation whilst discussing current affairs and family matters Douglas will often refer to Deb's opinions. " Deb was saying" etc. All agree she has been a positive influence on Douglas' life.

Douglas was widowed 11 years ago. He visits his wife Catherine's grave and takes roses from the garden. One day in August as he and Alison took a stroll round the garden in the sunshine he announced that it was time for the rose bed to be lifted. He and Deb had discussed it! Alison agreed and asked if she could have some of the bushes for her family home 7 miles away to remind her of her mother. " I've told Deb she can have them all. I am not at all sure about you having any". When Alison suggested just one of the 10 bushes he confirmed " But I have told Deb she can have them all".
They continued walking and Alison bent to pull a weed from the rockery. " Don't do that Deb is weeding that next week".

Alison is smiling because now he has Deb in his life he feels he has more independence and can do what he wants. She did however, want one of her Mum's roses. As Deb is Alison's friend she asked her about the roses and Deb was delighted for her to have 3 - she didn't really want them all.  Will Douglas recognise them in Alison's garden?

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Henry and Emma make the most of the facilities!

Henry and Emma moved close to their daughter 10 years ago. They are 84 & 88. Henry has been in physical decline for about 4 years with Emma keeping everything organised , including their daughter Joanna who was 60 in April. With 3 siblings living between 2 and 4 hours away she is the first point of contact and enjoys her daily visits to her parents. Emma was driving until 12 months ago. Henry and Emma quite a double act!

It has been clear that Emma's memory has declined over the past 3 years and tests were commenced at the start of the year. Carers were employed to support Henry and Emma whilst Joanna continued with her full time job.
8 months ago it was not good with Emma fiercely defending their independence and being rude to the carers. 5 months ago there was an " incident" when Emma chucked the carers belongings out of the window. Then 6 weeks ago it hit a serious point with physical and verbal abuse to the carers.
She was sectioned and hospitalised.

Henry stayed at home with the carers for the first few weeks then moved to a brand new care home not far from the hospital. Joanna visited Emma daily and was disappointed to notice that she always signed in after her own name meaning that the other 5 patients on the ward did not receive any visitors.

2 weeks ago when she went to visit, Emma was not in the day room. She found her still in bed and not well. Checks were made and an ambulance called with a urinary tract infection diagnosed. Consultants advised Joanna that her mother's body was " closing down" and that they should all be prepared to say goodbye. Her sister came to support her with brothers soon after.

1 week later, Henry gave his care home cause for concern and was sent to the same hospital. After almost a day in A&E he was transferred to the ward. The same ward as Emma. He had not seen her since she was hospitalised a month earlier. The staff on the ward reminded Emma about her husband and brought him to see her. They held hands. She recognised him. He was pleased to see her. The siblings comforted to see their parents reunited. With all of them in their 60s to have 2 parents for so long is special.

Emma has rallied. Her infection is clearing and she is more cooperative. It doesn't look as if she is ready to say goodbye as predicted and so Joanna is going on her Asian holiday for a well deserved break. Her siblings will be with her parents. The plan is for Henry to return to the care home. The plan for Emma is unknown, but it does look as if she will return to the ward she was on before with the 5 who have no visitors. What a tale Joanna and Emma will have for them!     As Joanna said
 " You couldn't make it up"

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Norbert and Julia off to the hospital

At 78 and 88 Norbert and Julia are making the most of retirement by the sea. In the last year he has continued to attend for regular treatment for bladder cancer and of course his skin continues to be a challenge with Julia applying the emollient every night before bed. In addition to Norbert's medical treatment Julia has had a cyst removed from her leg. It was malignant, and she had refused to have it checked, so by the time it was removed it was full blown surgery and a lasting scar. She is back driving after 3 months with the leg raised. They continue to enjoy the company of friends and family and their garden.
Norbert is delighted he can still drive and on the whole he is the driver for both of them, so he can manage the rural route to the hospital 15 miles away.
On one recent occasion the hospital  has recommended a driver for Norbert as the treatment may cause him to be uncomfortable and therefore not able to drive easily. Julia is at the ready, although not at all keen to go the distance. Off they go. He slightly anxious about the treatment, she anxious about where they will park, in particular where she will park after her trip to M&S to pick him up. Will he be able to get in the car unaided?
They arrive - he has driven and they find a drop off spot. She then departs for M&S. With an hour to fill whilst he has his appointment and medication applied. Whilst selecting the " Meal for 2 " offer her mobile phone rings.An unusual sound, as she doesn't normally bring it out. She locates it and is pleased to answer before it stops ringing. It is Norbert! He has got the date of the appointment wrong. They are due the following Thursday. Julia is not amused. She abandons the included white wine, pays and returns to the hospital where Norbert drives them home. Julia now convinced she must manage all the appointments. " He is so forgetful!"

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Nettie is mobile again!

Nettie recalls the many forms of transport she has driven in her long life: bicycle, horse and cart, motor bike, motor scooter, motor bike and side car, and car – “I even drove a USA air force jeep with the lads from the air base during the war”.   
Unlike many of her friends who were driving before the test Nettie actually passed hers in her fifties and bought a car so that she could take her mother, and various elderly relatives, neighbours and friends for trips to the seaside, attractions and sometimes “just for a ride round”.  

  In her ninetieth year Nettie sold the car feeling she was no longer safe to drive.  It was a great loss of independence.  

But today all the family have assembled to see Nettie’s latest vehicle – a shiny silver mobility scooter.  Niece Anne has helped source it and has organised insurance and wet weather gear.  No stopping Nettie now as she  able to visit friends in the village, drive to the bowls club and to the pensioners lunch in the pub.  The excitement is the same as with the original test in her 50s. 

Nettie has a test drive.  Everything works – indicators, lights, brakes, horn – toot-toot, toot-toot!  “Aunt Nettie is just like Mr Toad” says grandson Oliver.   “We-hey” chortles Nettie “They better all get out of the way – Here comes Nettie!”.   “OMG” thinks Anne “what have we let ourselves in for?”

Thursday, 13 April 2017

You can't beat a 2 year old for company!

We're back after a few yearswith a new range of adventures. The Betty and Liz adventures continue after Betty's peaceful death in a wonderful nursing home. The tales now include the range of folk whose needs are responded to by their children, neighbours and friends. Liz encounters the folk through her life in the East of England and now she is joined in her travels by Grace, her grandaughter aged 2.
This week a new and different experience as Li & Grace visited Ruth and Jonah, in their 70s whose daughter died from breast cancer in 2016. They way they approached the next chapter without her is inspirational as they have bought a new home and plan to visit their son in America with their 9 year old grandaughter who lost her mother last year. They are both active and interested. Ruth still teaches piano to 5 children and Jonah is playing an active role in the community. He has just given up mentoring teenagers at a local comprehensive school. They were thrilled when Grace joined Liz for lunch and reflected that it was a long time since they had a 2 year old in the house. The benefits of toddlers and 70 somethings linking up was visible as they were active and creative as they responded to her needs.