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Dementia and Pets

Ok so who could resist!!

Studies on pets and their relationships with humans has suggested that pets are good for us. The animals bring a calming feel good factor that helps reduce blood pressure, heart rate and the release of serotonin, which can only be good.

Also animals have unconditional love and loyalty and most of our residents have always had pets in their lives. Pet visits can help with aggression and anxiety along with depression. Watching someone become animated and happy when greeted by an animal is a magical moment.

Pat Shipman’s review of John Bradshaw’s book The Animals Among Us, Pat puts forward a view that humans and species that find it worthwhile, negotiate a common language which is nether human nor animal. Basically the book is about trying to understand Mans relationship with animals and their domestication.

Obviously, when inviting a dog into the home it has to be of good temperament and well trained. We have several families that bring their dogs in to visit their loved ones, not only are they well behaved but are always pleased to greet our residents.

Larchfield House’s garden starts to bloom!

As the weather improves our lovely garden is coming into bloom, we have two beautiful Cherry blossom trees that set the scene. The water feature trickles away whilst the wind chines clink in the breeze. The daffodils have put on a beautiful display but are now going over. We have a lovely Acer tree which is enjoying the light and position and is flourishing.

Our Gardening Club are busy planting vegetables and wild flower seeds, hopefully we look forward to seeing the results later in the year. Our residents are able to enjoy sitting out in the warmer air, chatting and socialising whilst soaking up a little sunshine. We also have bird feeders set around the gardens which attract some lovely wild life, from Dunnocks to Pigeons and of course the squirrels who enjoy running along the fence and climbing through the trees.

What more could you ask for apart from a cup of tea and scone whilst you watch nature take its path. As we head towards summer the garden is a wonderful place for the residents to use for their activities from music to bingo and also to sit with family members and enjoy the fresh air.

One of our residents enjoying planting.

We are looking forward to the development of our Sensory/Memorial garden, below is an example of the vision, providing a place of tranquillity and reflection for residents and families.

If you would like to know more please call tel:01628639428 to speak to one of our team.

The Journey

I wanted to cover again the feelings a partner or family member has when placing a loved one in a care home. It’s something we never expect to have to do, when you have lived with someone for maybe 40 or 50 years this is a terrible, emotional wrench, it truly is like losing someone before they have actually passed.

The first reaction is guilt asking yourself, why could I not cope, I should be looking after them, I have failed. This can be a seriously emotional draining time but it must be remembered that if you have been looking after your loved one, which is a 24hr job, you will be burnt out physically and emotionally already. Being on your own coping with someone who experiences mood swings, agitation and aggression can be very hard. And in turn your behaviour can become irrational because you are tired and no longer in control.

Remember Jim, who I talked about in a previous article. Jim used to shout and scream at Fran his wife who had vascular dementia, when he was helping her get changed, calling her names and saying she was the most stupid woman he had ever met. This is an example of a carer who is no longer coping, he is getting annoyed, out of control, frustrated and very verbally unkind. Obviously this is an extreme example but makes my point. A few examples of care giver burnout are withdrawal from friends and family, erratic sleep patterns and loss of appetite.

Larchfield House are proud to say that we take the wellbeing of our residents and their families very seriously. We are looking at forming a family support group so experiences can be shared where there is not only someone there to listen but to know that you are not on your own. No one should have to make the journey alone. If you would like to know more, why not give us a call 01628639428 all conversations are confidential. 

Running Down Dementia

We are very proud to announce that Kelly Hornblow, Clinical Governance Manager at Larchfield House is taking part in Running Down Dementia again this year. Kelly will have to have walked 186 miles!! Between the 1st April and the 31st August helping to raise money towards finding the first life-changing Dementia treatment.

This is the 4th year that Kelly has participated and it would be great to help her raise some money, so if you would like to make a donation towards this wonderful cause please click on Kelly’s donation page https://runningdowndementia2019.everydayhero.com/uk/kelly-6 or ask Kelly/Jane for more information on 01628639428 or why not pop in and see us.

If you would like to find out more please click on the link https://www.runningdowndementia.org or why not sign up?

Nutrition and Dementia

Eating and drinking for anyone is important to stay healthy, which in turn helps to improve one’s quality of life and well-being. There are various reasons why someone living with Dementia may lose their appetite. This can range from depression, communication, pain, tiredness, medication and lack of physical activity.

Depression in itself can cause loss of appetite, I think we all know when you are miserable you can have the, I can’t be bothered factor. You can of course get help with medication and therapies.

Communication, someone one living with dementia can have trouble telling you that they are hungry. So I could become agitated or even aggressive because I have a need but am not able to tell you. This is where staff need to know and understand why someone’s mood changes, look at the time of day and work out what it could be that they need. Prompting or pictures could help with this, even signing with gestures.

Pain, again if someone is in pain how do they tell you. What if they have tooth ache, oral care is very important and regular hygiene and mouth checks are needed.

Tiredness can also cause mood swings, sleeping patterns can vary dramatically with dementia.

Medication dosage changes can alter a person’s appetite, this would warrant the medication being reviewed.

Physical activity can help improve appetite, if I am sitting and doing nothing all day it’s highly likely that my appetite will be diminished as I am not burning anything off.

Weight should be checked on a regular basis, someone with a healthy weight should be weighed once a month. Someone showing signs of weight loss should be weighed weekly, this is measured on a MUST (Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool) score, anyone with a MUST score of between 1 and 2 would need to be weighed weekly. Weight is worked out on a height to weight ratio. Also to be considered is that someone who is overweight may also be suffering from malnutrition. This is because the food they are eating is unhealthy, it may contain a high amount of fat and is not providing the right nutrients, fibre and vitamins.

Break down of foods

Carbohydrates fuel your body and help your central nervous system and brain fight against disease.

Fats, there are healthy fats with can help balance your blood sugar and help prevent risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and also improve brain function.

Vitamins are also needed to protect the body against disease, but there are essential vitamins to function properly including A, C, B6 and D. Vitamins can lower the risk of diseases and are powerful antioxidants again helping to boost the immune system.

Minerals such as Calcium, Iron and Zinc help with bone strength, the nerve signal transmission which in turn helps maintain healthy blood pressure and red blood cells all of which helps boost the immune system.

Our bodies are generally made up of 62% of our weight in water so it is really important to have the correct levels of hydration which improves the brain function.

So looking at all the above you can understand why ladies and gentlemen living with dementia need a balanced healthy diet.

Larchfield House has created a nutritionally balanced menu on a four weekly rotating cycle. The staff are trained to understand the residents in their care and to help them to have a dining experience that is not only nutritionally good, but also a walk down memory lane. Within the menu are some of our residents favourite meals, this information is gathered from the residents themselves, their families and their life histories.

If you would like to know more about any of the above why not contact one of the team at Larchfield House 01628639428 or visit us on our website www.larchfield.care