Winter knitting donation for women’s shelter

Eleven blankets, 8 pairs of socks, 5 large teddies, 3 small teddies, 3 patch-work bedspreads, 2 scarves, 2 beanies, and one pair of gloves. These were just some of the items donated by Twilight to the Hornsby Ku Ring-Gai Women’s Shelter last Wednesday.

Anne Sheehan from the Women’s Shelter, and ladies of Horton House, Sheila and Jeanette, handing over their knitting donations.

Those living at both Twilight’s Horton House and Glades Bay Gardens had been busy knitting over the past months. This large collection of woollen clothes, blankets and toys was officially handed over at a morning tea at Horton House.

Anne Sheehan, a representative from the women’s shelter, thanked the ladies of Horton House for their “kindness and generosity”. She spoke of how the Hornsby Ku Ring-Gai shelter relies on donations from the community. The organisation currently supports over 450 women going through periods of homelessness due to domestic violence and poverty. These large numbers mean that there is a ‘huge need’ for donation and support.

Sheehan also says that she is ‘excited’ about Twilight’s converting Jamison House into a transitional home for women over 55 years old. Twilight is leasing the building for 2 years during its renovations as a source of accommodation and support programs for women in need.

The program will highlight the origins of Twilight itself, to support older, financially vulnerable women. Twilight was established as a social initiative in 1914, led by the Lady Mayoress, Miss Florence Clarke. As Sheehan says, Twilight is “going back to its roots and helping the gentle women in poverty”. The project will continue Twilight’s traditions and support the women who need it today.

Sheila pictured here at Horton House, thanking other residents for their contributions to the knitting donations.

Sheila, one of the residents at Horton House, was the ‘task master’ behind the project, and has been knitting since she was a young girl. She says that this is a wonderful opportunity to use her passions to give back. Sheila made sure to thank the other residents who knitted, especially, Jeanette and her daughter Margot, who donated a large amount of wool to the home to ensure that the project could continue.

As the Australian winter season comes into full swing, the residents of Twilight are determined to continue the program, and produce more blankets and clothes for the women.

MP for North Sydney Celebrates International Nurses Day At Hunters Hill Village

Hon Trent Zimmerman greeting the Hunters Hill Village residents at the High Tea event

Last Friday, Trent Zimmerman, the Federal Member for North Sydney, made an appearance at Hunter’s Hill Village to commemorate the work of nurses all around the world. The event was held in honour of International Nurses Day, celebrating the work of nurses and the aged care home’s staff with guest speakers and a high tea for those visiting.

Mr Zimmerman, who was invited to give a speech on the day, said a few words on the selfless work of the nurses. Afterwards, he was given an oil painting by one of the home’s residents to thank him for his appearance on the day and his kind words.

The Hunter’s Hill Village staff had reached out to Zimmerman after the federal election. The residents of the home had almost unanimously voted for Zimmerman and they were overjoyed when he was elected their member for North Sydney. The staff then contacted his office was then contacted by the staff and invited him to the Hunter’s Hill High Tea event, where the residents were delighted he was able to attend.

Sadhna Shah, our Reactional Activities Officer at Hunters Hill Village, says the day was important to “celebrate International Nurses Day and to say thank you to all the staff for the wonderful work they are doing.”

Paul Laing, whose father is a resident, was invited as a guest speaker. He said a few touching words about the service of nurses, and how much they contribute to the lives of families. Paul thanked the Hunter’s Hill Staff for the way they cared for his own his father.

The event was beautifully curated by Chandrika Herath who made the food by hand.

Neil Wendt, Twilight CEO, made a speech about the importance of nurses and care on International Nurses Day. Also pictured Geraldine Tattersall the operations manager for Twilight, MP Trent Zimmerman, Twilight Patron John Laurie, and guest speakers Christine and Paul Laing.

Twilight Patron, John Laurie, and CEO, Neil Wendt, also attended the event and awarded Mr Zimmerman a copy of the Twilight House’s history book, An Australian Story.

Gordon virtual discovery experience is leading aged care into the future

View of Horton House courtyard in the virtual layout. Image courtesy of Virtacom.

A 360° digital scan is being made for our Gordon based home, Horton House. The residential home will have its entire layout recorded, including bathrooms, gardens and even inside its cupboards. The virtual discovery experience aims to bring Horton House into the future and allow people to explore the home at any time or pace on their laptop or phone.

According to the home’s Facility Manager, Star Dang, it will “pioneer age care homes, not only in how tours are delivered but how people are able to interact with their potential homes.” Star says that the virtual discovery experience will create greater convenience for those looking at homes and also close the distance for families far away.

The program, built by Virtacom and funded by HSL, and will be more than a simple Google maps navigation. Their goal is to create an interactive experience.

The virtual discovery program will offer basic features like walk throughs, as well as extra details like opening cupboards to see storage space, moving seats to look at safety features, and additional information tags. 

These small touches make a big difference in building trust, says Virtacom director, Jason Swaffield. The added layers of features empowers individuals to inspect buildings and interact with the environment. It all comes down to Jason’s philosophy of allowing people to ‘go there before they go there’.

Jason had previously work for 5 years in health care and he says experiencing places digitally means that people get to observe the safety features and build genuine trust.

For Janna Blok, a resident at Horton House, the digital scheme will be a way to connect with her family. Janna’s son lives in Kempsey and her daughter in New Zealand, meaning that visiting Gordon is often difficult.

On the day Virtacom came in to perform the scan, Janna commented that it was a ‘lovely idea’, and will be a way for her children to ‘check in’ and see where she lives. 

Horton House lounge. Image courtesy of Virtacom.

The digital rendering of Horton House should be available by the end of April. The home is the first aged care facility from Twilight to receive a virtual discovery experience and CEO Neil Wendt is hoping to extend the initiative to more homes very soon.

Re-uniting the community in intergenerational project

Some of the craft projects the participants made!

A six month local research project started in Glades Bay Gardens last Thursday. It aimed to connect the wisest and youngest generations of North Sydney.

The program involved The Children’s House of Montessori in East Ryde and residents of Twilight Aged Care. The initiative was designed to bridge the social gap between the old and young.

Intergenerational programs bring diverse groups together and unite communities by building relationships and sharing knowledge. This specific project focuses on the benefits of an Intergenerational program using Montessori principles within an aged care setting. It pairs up seniors and children for creative activities to open conversation and learn new skills together.

Pam and her partner

Denise Underwood, the principal of The Children’s House of Montessori, said that the program gives the children experience outside of an excursion format and allows them to genuinely interact with the community.

A report from Generations United described the far-reaching benefits of these programs in their studies in America. Their research showed how engagement of the children and seniors benefits communities as a whole.

Intergenerational Programs are able to unite diverse groups of people and build social understanding. They provide role models and positive interactions while breaking down negative, generational stereotypes.

The children visiting delighted everyone living at Twilight. They loved the energy that they brought to the day. Dorothy, a resident at Glades Bay Gardens, said that the children were “absolutely wonderful”.

 Interacting with children encourages those older to be more active and cognitively alert; improving heart rate and mental health. 

Julianne Walker, the volunteer and project coordinator behind the enterprise, was excited about the project. She said that the program has just began, but response from the children and those at Twilight are overwhelmingly positive. The program has 1-2 hours of group interaction per week with a different theme, until its conclusion in mid-September. She looks forward to seeing how the program and relationships will evolve in the coming months.

The Montessori children in front of the Glades Bay Gardens home

4 Women, 61 Years of Service

We were very happy to see so many members of our Hunters Hill Village team be awarded their 10 years of service badge!

From left to right: Yvette Fonseca, Elizabeth Sikimeti, Gladys Maseko (the Facility Manager of Hunters Hill Village), Iwona Taborek and Chandrika Herath.

Combined, these amazing women have given a life-time of care- 61 years:

  • Yvette Fonseca (Cook, 12 years at Twilight)
  • Elizabeth Sikimeti (PCA, 11 years at Twilight)
  • Iwona Taborek (PCA, 20 years at Twilight)
  • Chandrika Herath (Cook/RAO, 18 years at Twilight)

The 10 year service badge is a new initiative of the Twilight Aged Care Board. They wanted to acknowledge the exceptional work of those who has been with Twilight for over a decade.

This is an incredible achievement, and we want to thank all of them for their decade(s!) of compassion!

Diagnosing Dementia. When to get help and what to expect

A dementia diagnosis can be game changing.

A diagnosis can give answers for strange new behaviours. It can allow families to receive practical information, advice and guidance. It opens up doorways for treatment and care, and sometimes even reverse effects.

Importantly, it can help you prepare for the future, both financially and socially.

A professional medical diagnosis informs you of the type of dementia, which can be vital in deciding treatment and planning.

However, questions of when you should seek out a diagnosis, how to do so, and what to expect often stop people from getting the help they need.

Many times people dismiss the symptoms of dementia by thinking its a part of getting older, or that they are not yet severe enough.

1. KNOWING WHEN TO GET HELP

It’s time to break down the first misconception.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s – while linked to ageing- should not be confused as ageing. Those with dementia are often mistakenly called ‘senile’, but mental decline is not a normal part of the ageing process,

Actual markers of oncoming dementia are things that impact and inhibit everyday life. Trouble with planning, finding objects, remembering upcoming events and appointments, having trouble when travelling to new areas are all signs of cognitive decline.

If you or a loved one are displaying early symptoms of dementia then you should seek help.

Alzhiemers Dementia Australia listed the 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s. This is a useful checklist for a basic examination.

A good way to self-assess is a Standard Mini-Mental State Exam (SMMSE). This is a simple test that you can find online and will only take around 10 minutes to complete. It is one of the most popular tests for cognitive function and can be easily completed with the help of a friend.

However, dementia is progressive and can get worse in a small space of time. This is especially true if there is a history or risk of heart attacks, strokes or excess of drinking and smoking.

A self-evaluation or a SMMSE is not a substitute for a professional diagnostic workup.

2. SEEKING HELP

Luckily, when it comes to diagnosing and receiving support for dementia and Alzheimer’s, there is plenty of help available.

Agencies like Dementia Australia, Alzheimer’s Association Australia, Dementia Support Australia and services like the National Dementia Helpline can give you information and assistance.

There are also open days and seminars across the country informing people of the disease. These days help families understand how their lives will be impacted and how they can adapt.

However, when it comes to diagnosis – a medical professional is best.

Your doctor or GP should be able to judge your concerns with a preliminary assessment.

The process could simply be part of a pre-booked check-up, or as an appointment on its own. It is important to tell your doctor any specific worries you have to better inform them of the situation, as well as for your own peace of mind. It is also good to use someone who you are familiar with and knows you.

You may be transferred to an outside specialist. This will normally be a:

  • Geriatrician: specialises in the health issues that affect seniors
  • Neurologist: specialises in the brain and nerves
  • Psychiatrist: specialises in emotional health and behaviours of people

They will be able to provide a more accurate and detailed health assessment than a preliminary test.

3. HOW TO BE PREPARED

Going to the doctor to get any diagnosis is always stressful. However, knowing what to expect can help make this a little less nerve racking.

Normally assessments will involve three parts, 1) a look into personal and medical history, 2) a physical and scientific examination, and 3) a cognitive test.

It is a good idea to bring along close friends or family along to the appointment to help provide accurate information and more specific details.

An effective way to illustrate the extent of your memory concerns is to start a list. Write down moments you or your loved one were confused or forgot something they should not have. These lists can help drive questions for the GP or the specialist later on.

1. Personal and medical history:

When looking into the personal and medical history of the person.

Since dementia is genetic – the likelihood of developing it later on much higher if a family member already has it. During an appointment there is usually a discussion of family health so it’s a good idea to get a grasp of the local family tree before heading in.

Medical history is also a very important factor. As mentioned early, the chances of developing dementia increase dramatically if there is any prior heart attacks, strokes or drinking and smoking.

Any current medication may also be having side effects that appear as symptoms of dementia, so an overlook will determine whether it is affecting behaviour.

2. Physical and scientific examination:

Dementia symptoms can frequently be explained by other issues,  like sleeplessness, sickness, or stress. The tests might also require a blood or urine sample to help rule out any of the following:

  • Anaemia
  • Infection
  • Electrolyte balance (salt and water) 
  • Liver function
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Thyroid function
  • Drug interactions and dosing problems

3. Cognitive tests:

Finally, a cognitive test will evaluate mental functions. This can be memory and spatial judgement, concentrations and problem solving. The details of the tests depend on whether you are visiting a specialist.

Cognitive tests determine what type of dementia might be present and help in making any medical recommendations.

5 Natural Ways to Slow Dementia Symptoms

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

Some people participating in art-based cognitive therapy

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

Daughter showing her mother photos on her phone

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/

Art Therapy Fundraiser a Success!

Some of the beautiful works by our residents across Twilight!

Over $2K worth of cognitive art therapy funds were raised in our Senior Art Exhibition at Glades Bay Gardens last October.

The art show was created by our residents from across all of Twilight Aged Care and included gorgeous works from water colour to gold leaf. The canvases were sold to support creative programs held fortnightly by Art-Based Cognitive Therapy for those living in the residential homes.

Julianne Walker, our volunteer and project coordinator, said that the exhibition was a success in more than one way. The show raised over $2,262 for the art therapy and connected the residents to the local community while positively stimulating and engaging them.

Dementia is the single largest cause of disability for older Australians. Over half of the residential age care population is living with dementia. It affects three in 10 Australian’s over the age of 85 and one in 10 Australians over 65.

Art therapy has been seen to reduce the effects of dementia and improve wellbeing and motor functions. The process of making the artworks has been greatly beneficial to those living at Twilight Aged Care and engaged residents cognitively and technically.

Julianne said that art therapy provides great enjoyment for the residents living with dementia, and those suffering from depression and anxiety.

She has stated that having this program across the Twilight homes provides a “sense of community”. Select artworks from the exhibition are now proudly decorating the homes in a permanent in-house collection.

Julianne is now busy planning for the next art show in October 2019, and says she expects it to be even bigger and better!