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ARE YOU TOO OLD TO START BALLET ?

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Have you ever yearned after being a ballet dancer – that is often the case in growing up and mothers often dutifully take their children to ballet classes as I did for my three children until the tummy aches occur before lessons or with competing interests they can’t fit it into their busy schedules.

But there are some children who feel they have missed out  Or feel they want to rekindle that yearning and as adults they find a studio to reconnect or even start as a beginner.  Moreover, there are significant number of middle – aged adults who decide to join ballet classes and reap the physical and mental benefits of this challenging dance form.

I remember my daughter and friends who dance at any opportunity  often attended a well known studio ‘Pineapple’ in Convent Garden. They have classes for a wide variety of different types of dance classes.

women who do ballet over 50

L to R These women are all keen ballet dancers, or use ballet movements to stay fit and active –-these ladies are aged 50-68yrs

Subsequently  I came across an ex-ballerina from Sadlers Wells Ballet company in an acupuncture class as she wanted to learn to treat common injuries. She was teaching middle – aged pupils at Pineapple and was proud of the fact that she had a pupil of 76yrs!

Isabel McMeekan was principal dance at the Royal Ballet now runs classes for adults including Assoluta class for the over 60’s.  This is a unique class specifically created for 60 year olds and over, involving gentle stretching, core work, barre work and centre practice.

 www.everybodyballet.com

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Hence, I was not shocked when a professional colleague told me she had just enrolled for regular ballet classes. As we talked I could appreciate the positive health benefits of maintaining flexibility and bone density well into your later years to stall the onset of osteoporosis and could also ward off dementia. That’s as well as improving your figure, looks and confidence, relieving stress — and maybe even helping your love life.

We know that about 9 percent of adults age 65 and older report having problems with balance. Poor balance can be a contributing factor to falling, which can result in broken bones and hospital admissions.

Hence, because it is well recognised that:-

The single most serious threat that older people face is falling

Good balance is essential to being able to control and maintain your body’s position while moving and remaining still. Good balance helps you:

• Walk without staggering
• Arise from chairs without falling
• Climb stairs without tripping

You need good balance to help you stay independent and carry out daily chores and activities. Problems with sense of balance are experienced by many people as they age.

Inevitably practising ballet is going to be invaluable in addressing maintaining good balance.

My story of joining an adult ballet class

I did ballet as a child until about the age of 12 when transitioning to secondary school and puberty meant focussing on other things in life. It wasn’t until 9 years ago, in my late 30s, when I joined an adult ballet class, that my love of ballet was reignited! The combination of dance to classical music is unique to ballet, and though I have tried and have enjoyed many other activities (yoga, ballroom, Zumba and flamenco amongst many other things), ballet is what I have stuck at with a passion for the last 9 years! Certainly the movements and positions we get into remind me of my childhood, and the music makes me feel nostalgic and emotional. Perhaps it is all this emotion combined with the fact that I’ve had a seriously good work out keeps me so addicted to ballet!
Music is an essential part of ballet, and through ballet I have learnt to love the piano again too. I found I was enjoying the music so much at the class, I would go home to bang out the tune immediately on the piano! Memories of my old piano teacher came flooding back…and I have since made contact with her through email. These two pastimes have brought me much joy and satisfaction in recent years, I feel my childhood has returned to me in middle age!

Elizabeth

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You may feel this is something you thought was too late to start but there is a chance out there and with the added bonus of physical and mental health benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Training and Advice

 

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ARE YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW BECOMING FORGETFUL ?

Last year I attended an interesting lecture from a doctor that had recently been diagnosed with dementia. What impressed me was not only her courage at being able to talk about the subject but the fact that having been diagnosed in the early stages she was able to get her affairs in order and have some say in how she wanted to spend the rest of her life as well as share with others what her thoughts were about her future.

She was taking medication which can slow the disease down considerably. Moreover, the understanding and care of patients with Dementia has improved remarkably in the past 5 years. When I wrote about my mother 2 years ago it had only just been recognised the importance of Advanced Care Planning and my sister and I were able to have similar conversations with her so that she was able to have some say in where she was to live for the rest of her days, have a say in who should have her treasured possessions and even make personal similar requests such as ‘you will pluck out any facial hair, keep my hair tidy, my nails manicured, and make sure I wear  my favourite make up’ She wanted to remain smartly dressed and maintain a neat appearance this was important to her. We fulfilled her wishes as far as possible and she died wearing her usual make up, her favourite perfume, hair set and permed and wearing a clean, new nightdress. She had pictures of her family around her and playing the music she loved most.

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When I recently went to see ‘Still Alice’ at the cinema not only was the acting of Julianne Moore worthy of an Oscar Award but it demonstrated how a family can be involved in the care of a relative with progressive dementia. In  the case of Alice it was a rare form of dementia which particularly strikes those of a young age, but nevertheless the message was the same. It was a compelling and emotional account of a family overwhelmed with a disease which affects all family members in many different ways,  sometimes dividing but also drawing everyone together with the common desire to help fulfil the individual’s life to the end as the person that everyone knows slowly disappears but somehow remains present.

If someone you know is becoming increasingly forgetful, you should encourage them to see their GP to talk about the early signs of dementia. If it is a relative may be accompany them . We usually screen them first by an array of blood tests to exclude simple causes which are easily treatable. If we are concerned about their cognitive function following a mini- mental health test we then refer to a older persons consultant who performs more mental tests s well as a MRI brain scan before coming to a definitive diagnosis.

Dementia is a syndrome (group of related symptoms) that indicate problems with the brain. There are several types of dementia.

Dementia

One of the most common symptoms is memory loss. While there are other reasons someone might be experiencing memory loss, if dementia is detected early, in some cases its development can be slowed and the person affected may maintain their mental function. The typical features of memory loss are :-

Struggling to remember recent events
Problems following conversations
Forgetting the names of friends or objects
Repeating yourself
Problems with thinking or reasoning
Confusion in familiar places

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In Ealing we have a very supportive group ‘Dementia Concern ‘ which is a group of people who support and help in the many aspects of caring for a person with dementia. Carers as we all know are amazing people who day by day and of often night after night perform the vital job of caring for someone who would fail to manage in their own home without them. They help maintain their dignity, their personal hygiene and those individual demands and requests we all have.

refer to their website to find out how they help and when the Dementia Cafe is open.

http://dementiaconcern.co.uk/services/dementia-cafe/

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2015 in Training and Advice

 

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SING – A – LONG TO IMPROVE YOUR LUNG CAPACITY AND PARKINSON’S DISEASE

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We have all been introduced to singing since we were born and most parents we will be delighted when they hear their child sing a familiar song for the first time and leap to record the moment. It is just as delightful when you hear your grandchild sing and singing to your grandchild even if your singing voice is limited is always appreciated and met with the  words ‘again, again’ !

As a schoolgirl  I associated  singing with warbling, middle aged women with blue rinses and clearly remember having learn to sing ‘Blow the wind Southerly’ by Kathleen Ferrier as an 8 year old !  I was in the school choir because I liked singing not because I had any musical talent!  Then there was the evolution of pop music And musical shows and then the doors opened wide and  singing for pleasure in the home took on a new light. After all I followed the generation where families used to sing around the piano at home but now it was singing with the radio or TV.

My children have known pop music since an early age and sing-a-longs with the radio on the school run were an important start to the day,  amusing many a commuter as they sidled up alongside us on the Great West Road. Now there are an overwhelming number of genres of music,  which has led to a wider range of choirs than ever before – gospel, rock, church, barbershop, beatbox  to name a few. You can find choirs who do popular chart hits arranged for choir, songs from the shows, or traditional folk music so that singing in choirs has become more popular.

In previous blogs I have alluded to the benefits of singing for patients with dementia and  the feel-good effects of singing in helping in depression. However, experts now believe that joining a choir could improve the symptoms of a range of health problems including Parkinson’s, depression and lung disease.

At a conference of the Royal Society for Public Health, Grenville Hancox, professor of music at The Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury, described the changes that can take place through singing together as “extraordinary”.
He told how he and colleagues have witnessed people with respiratory problems learning to breathe more easily, those with depression beating the blues and patients with Parkinson’s disease standing tall and singing loudly.
Prof Hancox is the founder of Skylarks, a new choir for people with Parkinson’s. This disorder of the central nervous system makes normal movements difficult and weakens the voice as the muscles in the face and vocal chords deteriorate. Prof Hancox and his colleague Stephen Clift, the centre’s professor of health education, are undertaking research to find out if choral singing can help with Parkinson’s symptoms, especially those affecting the voice, with choir members undergoing computer-assisted acoustical voice analysis at the start and finish of the study.

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Ian MacDonald, voice specialist with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine, reported to have said that it is logical that singing can help in this way. “The vocal cords are muscles,” he says. “By exercising them, you increase tone and restrict tremor, and the voice is less jittery. Singing warms the muscles up – just as athletes warm up theirs.” Being required to stand tall when performing may also improve core strength and benefit these patients.

As Professor Hancox and his colleagues have claimed they have witnessed people with COPD , a debilitating respiratory disease  learn to breathe more easily.  Around the world an estimated 64 million people are struggling to breathe on a daily basis.  The World Health Organization expects COPD to be the third leading cause  could potentially help so many people 

Sonia Page, the specialist respiratory nurse who is leading the current Singing for Breathing choir at the Royal Brompton Hospital, London says it has helped people with COPD “gain greater control of their breathlessness instead of being at the mercy of it.”

Patients have also reported improved respiratory stamina, reduced impact of chest infections and improvements in sleep apnoea (a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep). Dr Nicholas Hopkinson, a consultant chest physician at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, notes that singing cannot reverse the lung damage caused by COPD, but it can still be of benefit.
COPD patients have difficulty emptying the air from their lungs (known as gas trapping), he says, which is why they suffer from shortness of breath – a problem made worse if they panic and start to hyperventilate.
“Singing may help these patients to improve their posture and learn techniques to help control their breathing. In particular, by breathing out more slowly they give their lungs more time to empty, reducing gas trapping,” says Dr Hopkinson.

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The free weekly singing classes held at both Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals are open to all respiratory  at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust to help them relax and learn new breathing techniques.

The sessions are organised by the arts team at the hospital and are funded by charitable donations. The course leaders hope to enhance existing support for respiratory patients with an enjoyable, informal exercise, that teaches a better understanding of breath control through the use of the voice.
Two of the longest-standing members of the singing groups are Harold Dearing, who has asthma and has had several operations on his heart, and John Turner who has COPD. John has been coming once a week to the Brompton Hospital since 2010 and is passionate about the benefits of singing.
“It helps us feel much, much better. Although singing therapy can’t cure the lung damage caused by acute respiratory conditions such as COPD, the combination of breathing exercises and song can help people with breathing difficulties cope better with their disability.”
“Doing everyday ordinary activities becomes increasingly difficult for people with lung problems,” says John. “I find singing gets your lungs working better, you get out of the house, you meet people and you become a social animal again.”
“Way back in 2002 when I was diagnosed with emphysema, it was suggested I would soon need oxygen. Well I haven’t yet needed it and I think this is very largely due to singing.”
Singing to build confidence
Harold Dearing has been with a singing group for three years. As a teenager, he’d sung in a choir, so when he saw the Harefield course advertised he decided to give it a go.
“Every time I go it’s beneficial. I enjoy the exercises, but it’s especially nice to be together singing. It’s confidence-building. The teachers make it fun and make sure you’re in your comfort zone.”

Angela Reith, a music therapist who runs the sessions at the Harefield hospital says she sees several benefits.
“Some find that by the end of the session they breathe more easily. Others benefit especially on a social level. They have a good time and if you’re happy with yourself you can cope better with your condition,” says Angela.
Singing’s feel-good factor
Joanna Foster who runs the sessions at Royal Brompton agrees about the feel-good factor of singing in a group. “Singing together is not just exercises. It’s fun and it releases endorphins.”
Each of the sessions involves breathing exercises and singing. Starting with gentle upper body stretches, the group then practice making different sounds as they exhale such as sighs and fake laughter.
“It’s the same techniques that actors and professional singers use to warm up their voices and overcome nerves,” says Joanna.
This then leads into singing whole songs, learning them in chunks and eventually – depending on the size of the group – singing rounds and harmonies.
A survey of 500 patients taking part in the singing workshops at Royal Brompton and Harefield found that 70% felt markedly physically better after the workshops.

Joining a choir is by no means a conventional solution for such a serious illness.

The research team from Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent felt they had good reason to investigate the effects  on COPD and singing and showed that the benefits are real. Dr Ian Morrison, a senior research fellow and one of the project’s authors, said: “Lung function improved dramatically, particularly after about five months, once people had got used to what they were doing and changed their breathing habits.

It has been observed that people with breathing problems tend to develop a lot of anxiety about the very process of inhaling.  The tendency is to do ‘gaspy’ breathing so they’re taking short little breaths. This actually fills up the lungs without clearing them, making it even more difficult to breathe. Due to their obstructed airways, many people with COPD already find emptying their lungs a challenge.Gasping makes the problem worse and can, in the most serious cases, lead to a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood, which can result in respiratory failure.

In contrast, the techniques used in singing encourage people to breathe in a much deeper, more controlled manner.The whole musculature around the lungs, throat and the upper chest improve with time,” says Dr Morrison. They use what they have much better and you really see a difference in the skill of actually breathing.”

To test its effects, Morrison and his colleagues asked over 100 COPD patients – ranging from mild to severely affected – to attend weekly singing sessions over a 12-month period.They measured their lung capacity with a device known as a spirometer – which looks a bit like a giant breathalyser – and asked participants to fill in a questionnaire to find out on a qualitative level how they were feeling. One of the tests involved measuring how much air a person could force out in a rapid puff. ( Peak Flow Meter)

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On average the people in our study had 50% of expected lung function,” said Prof Stephen Clift, the study’s lead author. “That means about 1.5 litres of air in a one second puff. For healthy lungs, we would expect something more like 3 litres.” Without treatment, people with COPD can expect to see the size of their puff decrease by around 40ml a year.The very best the team had hoped for was that after singing regularly for one year, the size of that puff would stay the same.

Instead we got an increase of 30ml,” says Prof Clift.

“Although the changes are small, the progressive nature of COPD means that any loss of function year-on-year is going to be more significant for them.

“In our study, we not only appeared to halt the decline but people showed a small improvement.”

Dr Morrison added: “There’s also the social and psychological side, because any long term condition is isolating.

A recent Swedish study published in the journal Integrative Physiological and Behavioural Science suggested that it not only increases oxygen levels in the blood but triggers the release of “happy” hormones such as oxytocin, which is thought to help lower stress levels and blood pressure.

Singing has all the benefits mentioned so far and can also be very helpful in improving speech which has become slurred and unclear as a result of Parkinson’s. These same breathing exercises can prevent decline and marginally improve lung function in serious lung disease.

Breathing exercises and vocal techniques used when singing can help with:

  • sustaining the voice
  • increasing and controlling volume
  • varying pitch and expression
  • improving diction
  • controlling vocal speed
  • increasing the fluidity of diction
  • improving Posture

Not surprisingly there are a growing number of informal singing groups for people with Parkinson’s or other illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s. The opportunity to work on vocal and breathing techniques in an informal setting with people who share similar difficulties can be a valuable social activity and can help with self-confidence and overcoming Depression. And you don’t generally need to be able to sing to participate because such groups are not usually choirs and most do not give performances.

Typical singing activities which can help with improving posture, breath work and diction include:

  • taking your voice ‘for a walk’ up and down in pitch
  • lifting the tongue to the roof of the mouth
  • practicing trills (rapid alternation between two adjacent notes of a scale) with lip and tongue
  • making different types of sighs
  • humming
  • echoing tunes
  • singing in rounds (one voice starts and others join in one after another until all are singing different parts of the same song at the same time)
  • experimenting with a variety of pitch, pace and mood in songs.

Singing techniques have also been used to aid fluidity of speech and combat stuttering: Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT) uses song phrases to retrieve speech when this has been lost or weakened. Group singing can give a social outlet and boost self-confidence in people who tend to withdraw socially due to slurred speech and weakening articulation

Prof Clift and Prof Hancox believe the health benefits of belonging to a choir, for some chronic conditions will become indisputable. “There are examples of arts on prescription and gym on prescription,” argues Prof Hancox. “How about singing on prescription, too?”

If after reading this you want to have singing lessons or join a choir try your local church, community centre or school. I have listed some ideas below of various choirs in and around Ealing.

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Ealing Choral Society,

This is one of London’s best choirs: they are an amateur choir, performing with world-class orchestras and soloists in Ealing, as well as Central London and occasionally abroad.

http://ealingchoralsociety.org

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Questors Theatre Choir

imageAnd for more information about joining, read the Why not sing with us? section.

Contact us here or phone 020 8816 7734 / 07802 720333

We are a 60-strong mixed voice choir based in West London, England, and affiliated to Questors Theatre.

http://www.questorschoir.org.uk

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Ealing Common Choir

imageThis was formerly Ealing Common Choir. Singers are welcome and ideally  can read music and sight-read a simple line. You’ve probably sung on and off all your life. Contact us or just come along to a rehearsal on a Thursdays at St Matthews Church, Ealing Common. Further details:-

http://www.smce.org.uk

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Gospel choir/Singology

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Singology is a vocal coaching company setup by Mark De-Lisser in 2000 to provide singing opportunities and tuition to people of all ages. With a strong tradition of choral singing, Singology has now launched ‘Singology Choirs’ to encourage more and more people to get involved in community singing, which has been proven to increase confidence, social cohesion and can also be used as a diversionary activity for young people in the community.

Monday Ealing 7:30pm – 9:30pm Ealing Town Hall, W5 2BY 12th Jan – 23rd Mar

http://www.gumtree.com/p/classes/new-intake-of-singers-for-singology-pop-gospel-choir-in-ealing/1007900384

http://www.singology.com

Singology choirs throughout London are joining together to sing at the Royal Festival Hall.

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The Ealing Rock Choir

image             Grange Primary School,
Church Gardens, Ealing, London, W5 4HN

The Ealing Rock Choir is led by singer/pianist Christina Clark. We have a great year lined up and we would like to invite you to join our choir and take part in the local Ealing and wider London community. We are the Ealing rehearsal of the trailblazing Rock Choir. We often team up with the other local London choirs to perform in much bigger choral groups. These inspirational moments are unique to the Rock Choir experience. It’s unbelievable and you can still join the choir. Just like a gym class or amateur dramatic society, your Rock Choir rehearsal provides an escape from everyday life. One evening a week during term time, your time is completely your own, to do nothing but sing your heart out with friends whilst enjoying our trailblazing formula of fun, friendship and feel-good music. Book a FREE singing taster session at the Ealing Rock Choir and see for yourself!

There’s no pressure to perform if you don’t want to – it’s all about having fun and enjoying some well-deserved ‘me time’. – See more at: http://www.rockchoir.com

The Ealing Rock Choir singing at the Minack theatre, Cornwall. This is a fascinating outdoor theatre with an intriguing story.

http://www.minack.mobi

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Addison Singers

imageThe Addison Singers comprises two classical choirs – an auditioned Chamber Choir and larger non-auditioned Oratorio Choir; and two jazz choirs – an auditioned Jazz Ensemble and a larger non-auditioned all-female Jazz Choir. It also offers three different singing classes to meet the needs of beginners, intermediate and the more competent, experienced singer.

http://www.addison-singers.org.uk/about-us/who-are-the-addison-singers

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Or if or if all else fails try some Kareoke or sing- a – long with the TV or radio

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Posted by on February 8, 2015 in Training and Advice

 

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BRAIN AND MUSIC

Last year when I read the article written by researchers who worked with elderly residents at a US care home claiming that vociferously singing of classic numbers from hit musicals can boost the brain function of people with Alzheimer’s disease, I was delighted to hear this as I have always felt that singing and dancing with gusto are great for morale but now an added bonus if it boosts brain function. Also I was thrilled to know that my children and grandchildren will be encouraging me to sing Abba songs for the rest of my life! Singing Singing for brainOver a four-month study, the mental performance of patients who took part in regular group singing sessions improved compared with others who just listened. The sessions appeared to have the most striking effect on people with moderate to severe dementia, with patients scoring higher on cognitive and drawing tests, and also on a satisfaction-with-life questionnaire at the end of the study. Hence. When I met up with a doctor colleague I had not seen for years and told me she was playing the piano for people with Dementia and she wanted to spread the word I thought it made a good idea for a blog! The details are below:- image

COME ALONG WITH YOUR CARER AND SING ALONG!image

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2014 in Training and Advice

 

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DEMENTIA AWARENESS WEEK (19-25th May)h

This was largely organised by The Alzheimer Society to help make people aware of this condition which affects at least 750,000 and many people remain undiagnosed and the incidence is predicted to rise to 1 million by. 2021.

What is dementia?

Dementia

The term ‘dementia’ is used to describe the symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by specific diseases and conditions. Symptoms of dementia include loss of memory, confusion and problems with speech and understanding.
There are some very good videos directed from their website to you tube that explain this condition
http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/talkdementia

Also, for further information
http://www.patient.co.uk

http://www.nhs.uk
http//www.dementiaweb.org.uk/news/
24hr helpline. 0845 1204048.

Patients with Dementia could benefit from new GP contracts
This practise has signed up for both doctors to carry out :-
A proactive approach to the timely assessment of patients who may be at risk of dementia.
We will screen for Dementia in a sensitive manner as part of an elderly / medical check or on specific request and carry out regular medical checks.

What do you look out for?

If you’re becoming increasingly forgetful, particularly if you’re over the age of 65, it may be a good idea to talk to your GP about the early signs of dementia.

As you get older, you may find that memory loss becomes a problem.
It’s normal for your memory to be affected by age, stress, tiredness, or certain illnesses and medications.

This can be annoying if it happens occasionally, but if it’s affecting your daily life or is worrying you or someone this may need further assessment .

Please don’t hesitate to see one of us in surgery so that we can assess you and get the right help in place as soon as possible or if you are worried about a relative bring them to see us.
Sometimes it is simply a wake up call to get your affairs in order and fulfill your ambitions and even if a diagnosis is not made doing this a positive move to face the rest your life.

Ealing has a particularly active branch of Alzheimer’s concern. They are very supportive to carers and their magazine is always available at the surgery.

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http//www.dementiaconcern.co.uk/Ealing

We are proposing having a talk at the surgery from a Dementia Keyworker
LOOK OUT for this on the web page.

My experience of my mother’s  suffering with dementia, which in the early days she told me on many occasions that I should share the experience to help others coming after her.

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Many of us will know someone or have a close relative with Dementia and know the heartache that it brings.
You cannot take the person out of the disease. “.

This means that as confused as a person may seem those who know this person will still recognise the person underneath and feel a connection.
My mother recently died at the age of 94yrs with Lewy Body Dementia following a slow decline over 6years. My sister & I found that talking to her as our mother telling her what was going on kept her as part of the family to the end and even if there was no recognition there was some connection. She still worried about us – were we working too hard, how were we getting home etc. she still had the same food preferences and insisted on drinking her tea out of a bone china cup and saucer.

She must have been aware she was deteriorating as she had been proactive in getting her affairs in order and had even been looking at sheltered accommodation. The diagnosis at that time was slow and confused and often doctors and nurses thought she was being lazy or difficult. She had frequent falls and several admissions and when given certain medication especially codeine type painkillers or if she had an infection she became more confused and had visual  hallucinations. On one occasion I visited her and she thought the place was flooded and she was stranded on her bed unable to even get to the toilet and pleased to see me to come to the rescue. I understood that this was not my mother and I had to explain to medical staff who assumed that was her character and thought she had a mental illness. It was very frustrating as the proper diagnosis evolved very slowly . I was later to find out that many doctors were not familiar with type of dementia characterised by Parkinsonism, visual hallucinations made worse with opiates and cognitive impairment. Also, patients with Lewy Body dementia have episodes of unconsciousness – unrousable sometimes lasting 1 – 2 days. When they emerge they are often better and more lucid and rational so that to inexperienced staff it may appear that they are ‘playing games’ . With one daughter a head teacher and another a GP medical staff unfamiliar with this condition gave us a hard time on many occasions during the admissions for falls or when she was found unconscious. Eventually, we were able to have documentation which was shown to staff on admission or when having treatment and care in the community.

We made a life album with photographs of her whole life so that those caring for her had some idea of the life she lived and who had been important to her in her life. Often she referred to relatives and friends who had died many years ago so that it gave good talking topics when any family visited.
She had been living alone but when she was diagnosed she had lucid moments when we were able to discuss her future with her and reluctantly she was admitted to a specialist Care Home.
We were able to furnish it with her own furniture including the bureau contains photos and items she had saved over many years and a corner cupboard of trinkets that held many memories of holidays abroad and gifts from friends and family.
She took her own clothes , although I did find her trying to swap some with a neighbouring resident or offering her 1/6d (old money) for a dress of hers.
Moreover, she continued to carry her handbag and we took her to buy new clothes as she had always been very particular the way she dressed and in her last few months we bought her some new clothes and cheap jewellery and it was a joy to see her face. She continued to have her hair ‘set’ weekly until the  last week of her life.
We bought her make up and she loved it if any of the granddaughters put on her makeup or manicured her nails and wouldn’t change from ‘burnt orange’ lipstick. The grandchildren took their boyfriends/ girlfriends to meet her and she gave her approval often flirting with the boys and giving the advise she had given me as a teenager! She impressed them by demonstrating how she could ‘down a shot’ with a small cup of lactulose ( one way of getting her to take her medicine when she refused) She developed fears she was being poisoned (a common feeling in this disease) so we bought M&S sandwiches as she had implicit faith in their food -it worked!
She had always loved the garden and when the carers wouldn’t let her out she claimed they had put hosepipes on to pretend there was rain. Luckily I arrived in time and she was distracted and proceeded to tell me my brother-in-law had been put in prison for stealing a lot of money – £77.33 but I was able at that stage to tell her that she was confused and this was untrue and it was her illness and she gave me some insight as to how distressing things could be. That is why it was so important to visit to let her and the carers know what was fact rather than confusion.

Understandably, some people find it difficult to visit as what they see is too painful and as doctors usually we respect that ( you can’t take the person out of the illness ) and it can be difficult to come to terms with this condition. Also, if there was formally a strained relationship it is unlikely to change radically. I was fortunate that we had maintained a close, trusting relationship and was adamant that he should be cared for in a residential home situated near either myself or sister. Sometimes carers and those around a relative can offer more care and love than the relatives for all sorts of reasons and we as doctors try not to be too judgemental as we are often aware of those reasons.

When a well meaning carer sent me this video. It seemed hard:-

As my mother deteriorated and became less mobile we bought her an all singing ,dancing recliner chair so that she could be up in the day , wheeled to the garden she loved and sleep comfortably and eat her meals sitting up.

She was our mum who loved life, enjoyed a party and annoyed us in the same way. Latterly she was unable to walk so we used a wheelchair to take her out, the grandsons often wheeled her and she loved them doing wheelies and the last photos are with the family she loved laughing, singing but gradually these occasions became less and less she slept more until one day she went to bed said goodnight with the pictures of her two new great grandsons by her side and passed away peacefully. We played her favourite music and put on her favourite perfume and with hair ‘set’ and make up on she died in dignity.

image  More information concerning Lewy body Dementia
http://www.lbda.org/content/intro-to-lbd.

We had many times of anguish sometimes feeling  the doctors were being unhelpful and wanted to hasten her end before we were ready but often they were very empathetic and supportive. The carers were variable some cared better than others just like real life and as a family we learnt so much and witnessed how care of patients with Dementia has improved considerably.
When they are first diagnosed it may be appropriate to fulfill certain ambitions. My mother wanted to go to Weymouth as it had many happy memories for her and we had a wonderful day on the beach , paddled in the sea, ate ice-cream and talked about those happy days when we were all children. She wanted us all to be together as a family and we arranged this on several occasions.
It is so important if possible that the family keep in touch let carers know about the life of that person and fight for their dignity, plan their future whilst they can have a say and as the rainy day has arrived for them spend the money on what makes them happy and comfortable don’t hesitate , arrange to fulfill those ambitions as far as possible.

image        There are escorted holidays at accessible holiday centres arranged by the                                     organisation Vitalise

http://www.vitalise.org.uk

Many places have gatherings for carers and the patient with Dementia eg the Royal Academy of Arts has an afternoon where they discuss great masterpieces with them over a cup of coffee – the Art student who told me about this said that the patients with Dementia were totally inhibited and their remarks proved to be both amusing and honest!

This event is part of InMind at the RA, a programme of events for individuals with dementia and their carers or family members.

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/event/coffee-and-conversation-sessions-3

Eventually as with many people as they age their world shrinks and they prefer to remain their home environment and enjoy simple comforts

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Current affairs

 

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