How The Changes In Dads Health Are Impacting On Mine

Memory Loss/Dementia:

It’s been a while since I posted an update on my journey of ‘Caring for Dad’ and over the last few months I haven’t really had the time to sit down and write my blog, as so much has been happening with my dads health and wellbeing.

The changes I am now witnessing in my dad are quite upsetting, not only in his general health, which is declining due to his loss of appetite again, but the realisation that his memory loss, which was diagnosed as the onset of dementia, is really starting to show itself more and more. . .

It has been a constant battle for me to keep my dad active, involved, motivated, well fed, and on top of his medication.  Every day seems like a battle as dad doesn’t seem to have any motivation to look after himself, he needs constant reminding to do even the simplest of things, like making his breakfast (cereal or toast) or changing his clothes!

As a daughter I must admit, the last few months have been very difficult and I wonder some days if I am doing right for doing wrong.

My dad has no recollection of conversations from one day to the next, he can’t remember to take any of his medication, which I now have to administer 3 times a day because he wasn’t taking his meds.  I was finding them in unusual places, in drawers, in glasses, in dishes in the cupboards, in his pockets and even in the bin!  When I try and speak to dad about this, he has no recollection of how they got into these places, so I don’t make a big thing of it, I just smile at him and tell him not to worry.  I now make sure I watch him take his meds.  Sometimes I wonder if he is hiding them because he doesn’t want to take them, or if he just keeps them in his hands and drops them into these places without realising it.

The medication is just one worry of the changes I have seen in my dad.

The memory loss/dementia is starting to be more worrying, dad doesn’t seem to have any idea what day it is, even though I have a whiteboard in his kitchen which I update with the day/date/actions etc. . . Dad doesn’t remember that this is for his benefit, and it’s difficult to know if he realises what is in place for him.

I am now having to remind my dad about changing his clothes as he doesn’t seem to notice if he has spilt food down his shirt, or hasn’t changed in days.  There are days when he hasn’t shaved or even washed, and this is the hardest thing for me as dad was always well dressed, immaculately presented and took pride in his appearance as well as his home.  As a daughter I shouldn’t have to be telling my dad about these thing. . . It makes me very sad!

Dad has also recently been diagnosed with kidney problems and has been referred to a Urologist at the local hospital, this referral resulted in several blood/urine tests, ultrasound scans and a chest X-rays (all of which we are waiting the results of) another worrying wait to see what this means to his health.

The last few months have really taken their toll on me and my general health, I have felt so exhausted, I’ve not been sleeping well and my own appetite has been suffering.  I have found myself running around trying to fit everything in with not enough hours in the day to do some of the things I need to do, like taking time with my gorgeous grandchildren, picking them up from school, just the simple things in life that should be pleasant experiences.

Everyday is taken up with caring for my dad due to his declining health, and although he still lives in his own home, and he want to continue with this as long as he can, the worry for me is enhanced now.

To add an update to the situation as of last week:

I knew I was starting to struggle and I was feeling very emotional some days and quite lonely too.  

I am not a nurse or a professionally trained Carer, I am just doing my best for my dad, making it up as I go along and to say so myself, I think I have been doing a pretty good job so far.  However, over the last few months I have had no support services to help as most of my dad’s assessments of needs had been addresses and his therapy sessions, physiotherapy etc. . came to an end last year.

Therefore, I decided to take the advice of a family member, who suggested I had a ‘Carer Assessment’ they advised me that I had to consider my own health and wellbeing and seek support from the professionals.  I knew this was available and it had been suggested by the care services at some of my dad’s assessments, but I didn’t feel I had needed one at the time.

I had my ‘Carer Assessment’ a few weeks ago and I must say, it was the best decision I have made for myself in a long time.  The assessor was a professional Carer with a range of experience working in the NHS Community Services as well as being a Carer for her own Son.  I felt relieved to be able to talk to someone who knew what I was going through!

I will report back in my next post on the outcome of my assessment.

For further details about Carer’s Assessments please click on the following link:

https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/practical-support/getting-care-and-support/carers-assessment

 

 

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National Carers Week

This week is National Carers Week

There has been so much Information in the media this week regarding ‘National Carers Week’ and as a carer myself I am so pleased to see this information being promoted through Twitter and Facebook via Carers UK, NHS Trusts and Care Support Agencies across the country.

Research shows many people don’t expect to take on an unpaid caring role but every day 6000 people starting caring for a loved one and I guess I am now one of them.  As I have said many times in my blog, I never expected to be in this position but I have taken on this role and I see myself as the main support for the health and wellbeing  of my lovely dad.

Therefore, I would like to give a big shoutout to all of the wonderful Carers out there, who have taken on the role of support for a loved one, family or friend.

Happy Carers Week ❤️💙

Progress – Positive Reactions

Its good to see a positive reaction to the long awaited therapy group:

In a recent post in October I  wrote about my disappointment of the cancellation of a much awaited ‘Speech & Language Therapy Group’ which my dad had been assigned to in August.  After just 2 weeks on the programme my dad had been informed of the lack of available staff to continue the programme, which had to be cancelled and would be rearranged for October.

Although this did not happen in October, I am pleased to report the programme has now been rearranged and my dad has just completed his 2nd week of group therapy.

These sessions take place at a local GP surgery not far from my dads home, I usually drop him off at 2pm and pick him up at 4pm.  After his 1st session, dad seemed very positive about the group therapy and seemed to have enjoyed meeting other people who have the same problems he has been experiencing due to ‘Parkinsons’

I was really happy that my dad was back on the programme and this time the group seemed to have a lot more people in attendance.

This week when I dropped my dad off at the session I was happy to see him greet the other members of the group with plenty of humour and he seemed happy to see them, this was positive for me especially as I could see a little bit of mischief about him (something I have not seen fo a while)  however, when I was about to leave, letting dad know I would be there at 4pm to pick him up, a lovely elderly lady who was sitting quietly opposite the group spoke to me about dads singing? I approached her, as she was speaking very quietly and I didn’t quite hear what she had said. To my surprise, she told me that she hoped she could hear my dad’s singing soon, I asked her if my dad had been telling the group about his singing with the ‘Irish Guards Choir’ and to my surprise she explained he had been telling the group all about his 12 years singing with the choir, as well as his hopes to join them again one day.

This made me really happy as I had asked my dad if he had participated in the last group discussions and asked if he had spoken about anything of himself in the last session, but he didn’t seem to remember this.  I guess the little short-term memory loss can have that effect on him sometimes and it’s easy for him to forget things while trying to remember other things, such as his fact sheets and his homework (voice excercises)

On my return to pick dad up from his session I noticed how in tune he was with everything going on, it was lovely to see him chatting with other people and looking forward to seeing them the following week, dad even had a plan of action as he greeted me, he suggested we find out if the Irish guards choir would be performing any ‘Christmas Carol Concerts’ and wondering if he may be able to join them!

This was music to my ears, as dad had not showed any interest in joining the choir since his last visit to their practice session last Year.

This was a good day, a day when dad had planned something, a day that I was happy to support an idea and look into making this happen for him (that’s my plan of action for next week)

It would be so lovely to see my dad dress up in his uniform again and attend a carol concert at this special time of the year, I do hope I can make that happen.

Over the last 2 days I have seen such a positive mood in my dad, he has been chatting more, joining in with family conversations, even joking and tormenting his grandson, like he always used to do.  It’s all positive this week, what a difference a few sessions of group therapy can do to lift a persons mood.  I hope this continues, but on the other hand I really wish these sessions had gone ahead when dad was first diagnosed with ‘Parkinsons’ a year ago as everything I have read about, all points to the importance of early therapy sessions to help with the symptoms.

These pathways should be in place for all ‘Parkinsons’ patients and they should not have to wait over a year for these to be put in place, as early treatment or therapy helps with the problems they face and can help them in various ways.

 

Take Time To Admire Nature – It’s Good For Your Wellbeing!

A Walk In The Park:

I took some time for me today, some time to watch the park at play.

Nature at its very best, an array of colours had come to rest.

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I took some time to stand and stare, stunning colours everywhere.

Autumn winds had done their duty, bathing the park in all its beauty.

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I took some time to ease my mind, capturing my thoughts inside.

Nature brings out the best in me, a relaxing positivity.

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I took some time to reflect on me, realising I’m where I need to be.

Nature changes with the seasons, without asking for the reasons.

 

Time to Change/Time to Talk Day

Time To Change/Time to Talk Day

We all need to help change the stigma and discrimination experienced by people suffering from ‘Mental Health’ problems.  Any one of us could suffer from a mental health issue at any point in our life.

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday-log-your-conversation

There needs to be more information, education and open conversations to change the stigma that is attached to mental health issues.   There are people who still hear the words ‘Mental Health’ and immediately think ‘Crazy’ a word that has been attached to it for so long. . I might be taking a risk saying this, but I still hear this even today!

Having worked in the NHS for 28 years (non-clinical roles) starting my career in an Acute Trust, it wasn’t until I started working in a Mental Health Trust in 2004, that I became more aware of the bigger picture of health issues, and the multidisciplinary services they provide to the community.

When I began writing my blog it was with the intention of recording the journey my dad and I had taken since he suffered a heart attack.  That was 10 months ago and now, having followed a number of paths to pursue the right care and support that my dad required, due to a number of health issues identified, I find myself liaising with a service that sits within the ‘Mental Health’ Trust.

‘Later Life and Memory Services’ (LLAMS) 

One of my earlier posts described how I was noticing small memory lapses and episodes of confusion with my dad.  These episodes did not happen every day, and some I just put down to his age (83) I even laughed with him about the things I forget, that he can easily remind me of sometimes. However, the time came to address these episodes as I am aware the earlier a health issue is identified (such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s, the earlier treatment or medication can be offered)

My last post (Referral to the Memory Clinic) described the initial referral to this service, and some of the issues regarding ‘Signposting’ (yes, as you know I have experienced a number of issues with signposting to these vital services, which is why it has become a bit of a bone of contention)

http://www.5boroughspartnership.nhs.uk/base-page.aspx?ID=4852

Memory Clinic Referral:

Dad’s referral to the ‘Memory Clinic’ a service provided by the Mental Health NHS Trust, has resulted in two home assessments, a number of questionnaires, health and wellbeing checks and a referral for a brain scan, prior to an appointment with his assigned Consultant Psychiatrist.

Dad has two pathways to follow this week:

  1. Follow up appointment with Cardiology (Acute NHS Trust – Post heart attack review)
  2. Brain Scan with Radiology (Post referral from Mental Health Services)

Time To Change/Time to Talk Day:

You never know when you will require the services of a Mental Health Trust – It’s time to see an end to the ‘Stigma’ 

My next post will report on both outcomes, and the next step on this journey.