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Dementia Action Week 2023 is from Monday 18 September to Sunday 24 September, with World Alzheimer’s Day occurring on Thursday 21 September.
This year’s theme is Act Now for a Dementia-Friendly Future.
Since 2019, the focus of the Dementia Action Week campaign has been to reduce stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with dementia and their carers.
Communities that take action to become dementia-friendly have:
At Twilight, we are fortunate to have renowned global Dementia Specialist/author/researcher Leah Bisiani -MHlthSc/DipBus/RN1/Dementia and Aged Care Consultant on our team. Leah brings over 35 years of experience, in aged/dementia care, providing ongoing consultation, guidance, support and education for our whole organisation, as well as for residents and families.
Do you have any questions about understanding dementia and engaging with people living with dementia? Ask Leah!
You can follow Leah on Instagram at @uplifting_dementia or visit her website https://shimmeringspirit.wixsite.com/uplifting-dementia
The best exercises for those over 75 years wise.
As the winter season hits, it’s good to get the blood flowing and keep the body warm with light exercise. This goes double for elderly Australians who arguably benefit more from good exercise more than other age groups.
So, let’s discuss all the benefits of continuing to exercise as you get older and the different ways that you can get your heart rate up safely and healthily. Because age shouldn’t be a barrier to quality of life!
Let’s quickly go through some of the benefits of exercise before we tell you the best ways to keep fit.
Sport is very good for us, but it’s hard to get started and it’s even harder to keep up the habit! Here are some simple bits of advice to make being healthy simpler and that little bit easier on all of us.
It is important to remember to stop exercising at the first sign of pain. Do not push yourself if you are experiencing sensations of dizziness, feelings of nausea, or if you are seeing spots. Do not push yourself and consult your doctor if you are recovering from any injuries or illnesses.
Those who are 65+ with no medical or health issues are recommended by Health Direct to exercise regularly, even daily.
If you want some more information, the Australian Government Department of Health has some excellent tips for Australians (65 years and older) here.
There are a lot of stereotypes about the elderly being beyond sexuality and the need to feel attractive. But this could not be further from the truth.
Sexuality is a large part of who we are as people, and this doesn’t stop as we get older.
Reinforcing someone’s sexuality in their later years is very important. It is crucial to give women the option to feel pretty, and men to feel handsome. Make sure that they feel seductive and desirable. And allow them to become the silver foxes and vixens that they truly are.
However, in carer situations, the ability for older people to express themselves in these ways become limited. It is up to carers and family members to acknowledge the elderly as people who should have the opportunity to have a sexual identity.
Sexuality is critical for people to retain a positive sense of identity and self-value. It is a basic human need to feel good about ourselves. It is important to look and feel glamorous – to be a little bit sensuous.
Many elderly people are single. Some with partners who have passed on, and a large percentage of those entering aged care who do not have a partner. Many older Australians are seeking a romantic interest within their local community or care facility.
So a nice hair cut now and then, or a good shave, shows that they are still out there and looking for love. Ensure people have the option to put on nice jewelry. Buy a tailored outfit. Go shopping. Let them choose their own clothing for an expression of style.
Simple activities like this allow the elderly a better quality of life, a better sense of personal identity and healthier interpersonal relationships.
As odd as it sounds, it is important to talk to older people about their sex life and sexuality. Having an open communication about their wants and needs will help you address anything troubling them or look at things that they could be missing. It shows that you are respecting them. Recognise sex and sexuality as something meaningful and important in their lives.
Discuss it with other people – like friends and family – to normalise the conversation and create a greater awareness.
Some quick tips for talking with residents about sexiness and their sex lives:
Yes. We do have to acknowledge that it will be a little strange at first. But starting these conversations like these will have a big impact on their everyday lives.
The ability for the elderly to present themselves sexually in their day-to-day life is an essential part of people’s identity but is often ignored.
A look into how nutrition for older Australians guarantees better health in aged care and how to promote this.
This article will talk about:
Eating right is a fundamental part of our health, and it becomes even more important so as we grow older. It takes up a large portion of our day and has a huge influence on our physical and mental health.
So, here are the ways in which food can affect the lives of older Australians and ways to promote it.
As they say – healthy body, healthy mind!
General health is becoming a critical part of tackling dementia, and that includes what people are eating as well.
Avoiding fatty or sugary foods that cause high cholesterol levels or blood pressure is very important to maintaining a healthy heart and mind and reducing the chances of strokes and heart attacks that can deteriorate brain health.
Older Australians with dementia or other diagnoses can also be at risk of becoming malnourished. It is vital to be aware of issues that may occur when looking after them. People living with dementia at home can often forget mealtimes, and what they have eaten before. They can develop problems chewing or swallowing their food and even be unable to recognise food and drinks they are given. These factors can lead to further deterioration of health and mental functioning.
However, aged care facilities are able to recognise the extra care needed to support residents with dementia.
Food (while being delicious and nutritious!) presents an opportunity to promote the dignity and independence of older Australians.
Older Australians in carer situations can suffer loss of independence during meal times with carers scheduling strict eating times, serving food that people need assistance eating or simply cooking something they do not like.
However, food provides opportunities for celebration and socialization that contributes to a lot to how we live our lives. There are plenty of ways to do this for residents in carer situations.
Use these times to ensure dignity and choice so mealtimes can become empowering for those involved.
Malnourishment can often lead to lower energy levels in older Australians, causing less engagement with daily activities and social interaction. All of this can affect overall mental health, including links to anxiety and depression.
However, the solution can be as simple as having a nice meal with friends and family.
It is very common for older Australians to lose weight when aging in a carer situation. Unfortunately, there is a cultural belief that this weight loss is normal – or even desired – for older Australians.
However, once an older person becomes malnourished it becomes more difficult for them to recover to a state of health.
Malnourishment can severally impact the everyday lives of residents. It increases the risks of falls, pressure ulcers, and even delirium. It slows down the healing process for injury recovery. And it can further degrade the lifestyle of residents already living with disabilities and dementia.
There needs to be an overall culture change when caring for the aged in order to tackle the issue.
At no point should anyone be ‘force-feed’ or pressured to eat more. It is vital that you make sure to always respect the independence of residents.
This creates a non-invasive way to approach the issue and steer behaviour towards more beneficial ones, not just tackling the issue superficially, but getting the support of family and friends for a better solution.
For those who are time-poor (or skim reading), here is a quick summary of what carers can do to promote nutrition.
If you want any more information, there are some great tips for promoting health and dignity with food from the Social Care Institute for Excellence.
With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering are enormous to you, your family, and the community. For some volunteers it offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around them. For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge.
Here are 15 benefits of volunteering.
Volunteering is said to be a great way to deal with stress and anxiety that affect so many. Vice says that this is mainly to do with busyness being a great distraction and barrier to negative thoughts and feelings. Volunteering also hold opportunity for plentiful social contact which can put people in a good mood.
Those who volunteer help the community as a whole. You are working in the areas that need it most for the people who need it most. Time spent supporting not-for-profit organisations and services is often desperately wanted, and this sense of value from your work will be felt not by yourself but those around you in the larger neighbourhood.
There are a tonne of skills associated with volunteer work that will be beneficial for both work and life opportunities. Seek has stated that volunteers are known to have essential (and industry recognised) skills, like the ability to work well in a group environment, problem solve, lead groups, work under pressure and time management. This is also complimented by more niche talents that some training programs include, like first aid, organisational management, and IT know-how. All this builds to create a comprehensive skill set that is useful for anyone is almost any situation!
Volunteering in general will give you a sense of self-worth and pride in your everyday life. Doing good work for good people installs pride and will make you feel good about yourself and what you are doing.
Volunteering also often involves taking on extra responsibility and tasks – which will build your confidence in managing multiple projects. You will trust yourself more and develop yours skills in difference and sometimes challenging environments.
Volunteering is not only something to do with a friend, but a way of making friends, no matter your age.
It is a great way to introduce yourself to new social circles and make new connections. Helpguide.org describes it as a way of actively meeting and introducing yourself to other people. There is a likemindedness in individuals supporting not-for-profit organisations and often you will find similar passions in the volunteers around you. Despite the variety of backgrounds and personalities of volunteers, they are almost guaranteed to be incredibly kind and looking to make friends during the volunteering process.
With such a focus on health these days, it’s a surprise that volunteering is not being promoted as an excellent source of wellbeing.
Live Science says that volunteers have been found to live longer and have generally healthier lives. This is because they walk more on average and carry out more physical chores. However, even those who work in less active roles receive this health boost, by developing a higher degree of mental flexibility in their ability to handle multiple complex operations.
This is perfect for those looking to have more meaning in their lives. It is an easy way to do good in your spare time, and make a different to those around you while also adding a sense of direction to your life.
Volunteering is the perfect way to make your resume stand out for a potential employer at any stage of your career journey. It is a great way of showing that you have a good sense of character, compassion and actively work in a team.
According to ENHANCV, 82% of hiring professionals prefer applicants with volunteer experience. It means that the applicant is driven by social god and that they have more skills than simple, task related ones.
Volunteering allows you to meet people and do things that you would been exposed to be. Volunteering lets you hear fascinating life stories, work with enthusiastic and passionate people and shape people’s lives for good.
These new experiences allow you to witness the lives of others and can be powerful memories that shift your perspectives of life.
Volunteers are able to bring their unique talents and interests to other people’s lives. Organisations, like us at Twilight, have had great success from volunteers indulging in interests like art and gardening and engaging residents in these activities.
It has been found that communities with a strong volunteer network help community growth. Since volunteers literally help the community by filling in the gaps in funding and resources. NSW Volunteering has stated its benefits in promoting overall health in the local area, saying that volunteers “make an extraordinary contribution to Australian society” and are the “lifeblood of our community.”
Communications skills are a necessity in our modern day. And volunteering is not only good to make friends and also have fun, but can help you later in industry work and everyday life.
Diverse Voices, says that volunteering is the perfect setting to practice ad develop social skills, not matter if you are an extrovert or an introvert.
A reference from a not-for-profit organisation can speak more about your character than a family member or an old employer.
Volunteering also generates good word about you within the community and with specific businesses while connecting you with industry personalities.
Volunteering can builds skills, as well as placing you in an environment that may lead to career opportunities.
Monster says that volunteering is a perfect stepping stone to employment and will add professional experience to your resume.
If you have ever volunteered, you may have noticed that you felt fantastic afterward. Maybe you saw a little boost in your mood, or enjoyed being part of a team.
It is the perfect way to escape from the routine of retirement, work, university or school and accomplishment so much than you could alone.
Twilight has revitalised its volunteer program which includes a comprehensive orientation, training and handbook. Each of the homes is fortunate to have several volunteers and we are always happy to welcome new members into our community. If you are interested in volunteering with Twilight Aged Care please contact our Volunteer Coordinator on 02 9414 4400 or email: email@example.com[/vc_column_text]
Dementia is one of the most heart breaking conditions that can affect the ones we love. Supporting those who are showing the signs and symptoms of dementia and knowing how to help them can be extremely difficult.
However, there are a few simple changes that can assist in slowing these symptoms.
1. Be more active
Studies have shown that even light exercise like going for walks, moving about the house and doing daily chores are able to simulate people and improve their cognitive functions.
(We do not necessarily mean pumping weights or attending the over 60s CrossFit class).
This relationship between higher levels of daily motion and dementia has been explored by US and Brazilian scientists. They identified those living with dementia lack a protein called Irisin that is generated during exercise. Irisin was found to improve recall and generate neuron growth in the brain in people who are active over 30 minutes a day.
Studies like these are now showing that general health is extremely for individuals with symptoms of dementia. Most risk factors are linked to brain function are related to good health; so maintaining – (or gaining) – a healthy lifestyle is a great combatant.
2. Keep the mind sharp
Now we have discussed keeping the body active, it’s time to address the mind!
Intellectual stimulation is most commonly praised by the scientific community and, well… we’re here to praise it as well.
Little things like puzzles, word games and Sudoku have been found to be highly successful in slowing down signs of dementia. They present small challenges that engage the mind and improve mental function.
Recently, cognitive art-based activities have been hailed for their therapeutic qualities. Art is uniquely able to stimulate those with dementia both technically and mentally. While most of us have subpar art skills- this is something fun for everyone involved and the results can look spectacular.
3. Watch what you eat
‘Watching what you eat’ does not mean forcing kale or superfoods on anyone. No one is cruel enough to insist that.
As mentioned before, general health is becoming a critical part of tackling dementia; and that includes what people are eating as well.
Maintaining healthy blood glucose, cholesterol levels and blood pressure are small steps that can make the biggest difference to the wellbeing of a loved one.
You’ll find that a lot of things good for the heart are good for the brain as well. By minimising the food ‘no-nos’ – like saturated fats- you lower the likelihood of health issues that can accelerate or spark dementia.
Reducing cardiovascular risk factors can prevent medical conditions linked to dementia. People are who are unfortunate enough to suffer a stroke are more likely to develop dementia- particularly vascular dementia.
You can help by choosing healthier places to eat out when getting together with friends and family, shopping at farmers markets or having a family home-made meal with a few more vegetables thrown in.
4. Getting rid of bad habits…. and staring good ones.
It’s easy to get stuck in a ‘bad’ routine. Smoking, frequent drinking, or going to bed late are all little cheats that we think we can get away with.
But habits like these place small stresses on the heart and mind that generate bad health and can lead to – or cause problems that bring on – dementia.
However, conquering these gives us a chance develop healthier practices that can help naturally slow down symptoms of dementia.
Developing patterns of behaviour to combat memory loss is one of the most helpful things you can do. Start keeping lists of things to be done and people that you have recently met. Start writing a diary of what was done that day. Have certain special spots for objects like keys and glasses.
5. ‘Spill the tea’ or have a day out
Recent studies from The Alzheimer’s Society has found that a chat with friends or family is more beneficial than just a bit of a gossip.
Their research discovered that social interaction is the perfect foil to the loneliness related to increases of cognitive decline. The physical benefits are also apparent, as group interaction visibly lowers stress levels and blood pressure.
Family outings, lunch with friends, special events, and group and pet therapy have all been observed to maintain independence and mentally stimulate. New technologies have also brought the option of digital media; one of the best ways for them to be connected to the people who love them at all times.
If you or someone you know is suffering from dementia, you can contact Dementia Australia for more information or support at https://www.dementia.org.au/
We have some tips to keep you motivated during these colder months. Staying active especially during the cooler the months is good for the mind, body and spirit.
Each year here at Twilight, we take this season very seriously as it can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of our residents and staff.