• janedalrymple

My journey of understanding about dementia began as a carer for my mother. She came to live with us following the death of my father. Her entry into our daily lives was a shock as we struggled to understand her life and needs. Reflecting on this now of course I am aware that I got things wrong so many times. To try to understand what living with dementia meant I read everything I could. A colleague advised me to look at Tom Kitwood (1997) and Kitwood’s flower made a lot of sense. I also looked at the Alzheimer's website (www.alzheimers.org.uk), and personal stories about dementia (such as Christine Bryden 2005). I signed up for e-mail alerts from the Stirling University, Dementia Research UK and Alzheimer's Society and became a Dementia Friends Champion. On Youtube I found David Sheard talking about the 50 pence piece moment: a revelation to me and I started to think about Butterfly moments and was inspired to build on my work as a lecturer and qualify to become a dementia trainer - to contribute to changing the culture of social work and social care in relation to dementia.

Exploring my own feelings and emotions was a challenge during this training. I was put to the test when my mother died shortly before the third set of training days. I realise now that I had relied on her when being a trainer - she was my inspiration, my teacher, the reason for me doing the course. I told one person on the workshop that my mother had died but then I did not talk about it for the two days until I found an exercise particularly difficult because it brought so many feelings up for me. I thought about how I could have managed it differently and about the importance of acknowledging how my feelings affect me on a daily basis. Learning as a trainer the importance of monitoring thoughts and emotions as they happen - to be aware of what is happening inside me, acknowledging and accepting them - has helped me to be more self aware. Prior to my mother’s death I could happily talk about her when presenting dementia training sessions, using examples from my daily contact with her. Even when there had been difficult moments and sad days, I knew that the next day could be different and wonderful. Without her I felt bereft, with nothing to draw on to enhance my training. Working through my grief however brought a renewed energy, and awareness that her gift to me was the passion to support people living with dementia. More than anything else I realised the importance as a trainer of using an experiential and feeling based approach…of the need to include my mum and not leave her out. The impact that emotional memory can have has been very personal here and something that I try to bring into my training now.

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  • James Bell-Winfrow

DementiaUK's Helpline Admiral Nurse, Rachel Watson, advises families with dementia on what to do around the guidance with face coverings.

Face coverings can be used to limit the spread of coronavirus through air droplets when people cough, sneeze or talk. There is evidence to show that they can reduce the spread of the virus in people who are contagious but whose symptoms have not developed yet, if at all.

Many families have reported feelings of anxiety, particularly around what’s going to happen if they cannot get their relative to wear one and if they will be fined.

If you would like to read what Rachel has to say check out their website:https://www.dementiauk.org/advice-about-face-coverings/

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  • James Bell-Winfrow

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

Caring for a person with dementia at home already comes with challenges. Coronavirus has for many made things more difficult and added to an already stressful situation. At this time, be sure to look after yourself as well as the person you’re caring for. Everybody connected with the Langport Dementia Action Alliance offers our wholehearted support to carers, healthcare workers, supermarket staff and people living with dementia during this challenging time. It is important to continue to follow government advice on helping to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

Living with dementia at any time brings everyday challenges for the person and those around them. Coronavirus is making daily life much harder. Many may feel anxious, scared or lonely whilst the threat of coronavirus remains real and it may seem like that life will not fully return to normal any time soon remember you are not alone – help is available.

If you or anyone you know is in need of a little support then please do contact Langport Cares, a volunteer led community good neighbours scheme serving Langport and the surrounding villages. Langport Cares offers a service in their community for those in need of help and support. The people who may need support may be the elderly, disabled, single parents, young families, those temporarily in need through illness or anyone who may be isolated within the community - and at this time those who are isolating for whatever reason.

If you, a family member or someone you care for have been using services set up specifically for shielding or self-isolating individuals, and you would like ongoing Post shielding support then Langport Cares may enable to help.

Langport Cares is not here to replace the work done by Social Services and other professional care agencies. They operate and on a more personal level than many agency-led schemes, often starting as simple offers of help to an acquaintance in need.

If you would like a little help in things like getting shopping or a prescription to Letter-writing and form-filling then feel free to contact them: 01485 251881 or email langportcares@gmail.com.

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