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/
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!
Christmas came early this year at Horton House Residential Aged Care Facility as families and guests came together for a festive celebration!
The residents and guests savoured a glass of wine (or bubbly) and an extensive variety of finger foods. With the home cooking up pastries, sandwiches, fruit platters, Christmas coconut balls and fruit mince pies.
Residents like Annette, noted the ‘festive atmosphere’ of the day, “everyone’s happy and very lovely”, she said.
Fiona, thanked all the staff and volunteers for their effort they put into the day, by assisting in preparation for the meals, catering to those attending and assisting the residents prepare for the party. Their efforts in going ‘above and beyond’ helped make the Christmas a merry one for everyone.
For Fiona, the season is about bringing people and families together and “enjoying each other’s’ company”.
The event meant that for some couples like Max and his wife, Ruth, who lives at Horton House, could celebrate Christmas with the Horton ‘family’. The couple has known each other since they were fourteen and Max still visits his wife every day. Christmas celebrations are an important part of their lives.
The Christmas celebration has been a long-time tradition of Twilight aged care, to bring people together during this special time of year.
A Christmas feast and community cheer at Glades Bay Residential Aged Care Facility!
The food outshone Santa this Christmas at Gladesville!
This is to be expected, as the residential village is known for its Christmas feasts and outstanding cuisines. Head cook, Ramina Shiekhali, had been preparing this jolly feast since 4 o’clock in the morning and the results were spectacular.
Towers of chocolate covered strawberries. Rice bubbles shaped into Christmas trees. Mango and avocado salad. Soy chicken drum sticks. Trifles and so much more.
The great food was no surprise to those living at Gladesville however, as resident Helen Spurrs told her daughter, Rebecca Knight, “The food is just always lovely”.
Twilight’s annual Christmas party provides opportunity for families like Helen’s to come together for the holidays.
But other residents use the Christmas lunch as an opportunity to show off some talent. Liz Matthews, a resident of Gladesville for the past four years, makes an annual performance from anything from poetry to singing and brought a rendition of Jingle Bells to the party.
Gladesville Public School wrote up Christmas messages for staff and volunteers to hand out to the residents. And community groups had contributed gifts for Twilight’s residents as well.
However, it wasn’t just the residents receiving presents, but the staff as well. Families of the residents came in and delivered gift baskets and homemade goods.
One of the parcels included fidget cushions made by one of the residents daughters for residents with dementia to engage in tactile stimulation.
The Christmas lunch has been a long-time tradition of Twilight aged care, to bring people together during the holiday. It is held annually in Gladesville Residential Aged Care Facility as well as throughout all of their four homes in the northern Sydney area.
Presents from Santa, school kids and a diamond anniversary have made Christmas merrier at Glengarry Village Residential Aged Care.
Dozens of families and friends came together in celebration of Glengarry’s annual Christmas lunch on Thursday the 31th December. All the residents were in their best clothes, wearing paper crowns and breaking Christmas crackers. There was delicious food, a live performance from singer Leyla Nassif and chatter all around.
Jinky Mactal, the recreational activities officer, was the life of the party and had been sitting up and planning since 2 o’clock that morning. She had gone ‘all out’ for the Christmas lunch, and was constantly grabbing more chairs for the increasing number of resident’s guests.
It was well worth the effort according to Jinky, “To get everyone together” she said, “That is the one thing that matters to me”.
Jack and Jill Kindergarten had visited earlier in the day to sing Christmas carols to the residents. The children had been coming weekly to the home to visit those at the home as part of an Intergenerational Program that Glengarry has. The lunch was also special for another reason, it was the 60th wedding anniversary of resident David Wilcken and his wife Bridget. They were given a bunch of orchids by Twilight’s facility manager Margaret Smithson in celebration of their diamond anniversary.
However, they were not the only ones to get presents this Christmas, as local community groups and even the families had donated gifts for the residents. Santa came around with labelled and wrapped gifts for all the residents, with surprises from slippers to novels.
Everyone fell in love with Frankie, the soft hearted giant from Delta Therapy Dog Volunteers that put on antlers and served as Santa’s reindeer. And at the end of the day Frankie was also given a gift from Santa- a juicy bone.
Residents of the memory support wing, ‘Eloura’ had a quiet in the courtyard to enjoy their own Christmas festivities. Student nurses and volunteers catered their lunch with soft music for a relaxing time for the residents.
The food fit the season perfectly with classics like shaved ham and beef with gravy, roast vegetables and peas. Desert was also very popular with residents and families alike with homemade mince pies, fruit cakes and pastries.Jinky and Margaret thanked guests and staff for making the day special for the residents at the end of the lunch. The Christmas lunch has been a long-time tradition of Twilight aged care, to bring people together during the holiday. It is held annually in Glengarry Residential Aged Care Facility as well as throughout all of their four homes in the northern Sydney area.
It was a jolly time for those at Hunter’s Hill Residential Aged Care Facility, as families, school kids and even Santa himself joined for the festivities!
The community came together to create a merry experience for everyone with carols, presents and festive red and green food. Hunters Hill Public students made the Christmas cards for those staying at the home, and local groups donated raffle prizes and gifts for Santa and the children to give to the residents.
Heilala Galbraithe, a staff member at Hunters Hill said that the event meant that everyone could come together in a family Christmas that all their residents could enjoy. “They are our family too”, she said “like our own grandparents”.
Staff who had the day off, like Heilala herself, still made the trip to the home to join those setting up the lunch festivities. Facility manager, Gladys Maseko, thanked all the relatives and staff for coming and making the day more magical for the residents and their guests.
The Hunters Hill Congregational Community Church choir lead by pastor Julie Grancha, brought music and energy to the day. They had an early show that carried into lunch time, and brought a joyful spirit to the Christmas celebrations with classics like Jingle Bells and Holy Night.
However, the highlight of the day was when George Burns, one of the residents, performed the old Irish balled Danny Boy with Julie and the church choir. It was an emotionally charged moment for his family, as well as staff and residents like Helene Polhill, who recalled the moment, saying it “Brought me to tears”.
The food was catered for by Twilight’s passionate cooks, including Yvette Fonseca, who crafted a feast for those attending. Residents and families enjoyed food like vibrant Christmas coloured panna cotta and chicken puffs- the “all-time-favourite”.
The Christmas lunch has been a long-time tradition of Twilight aged care, to bring people together during the holiday. It is held annually in Hunters Hill Village Residential Aged Care Facility as well as throughout all of their four homes in the northern Sydney area.
We are very proud of this wonderful intergenerational community project, LEST WE FORGET Ensuring the stories of our diggers live on…
Thank you to St. Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill for agreeing to be apart of this very special project. Also thank you to Betty and the Wilson family. Betty Wilson chatted two Year 7 students about her husband John and his missions in the war.
This project was supported and funded by DVA – Department of Veterans Affair. Please enjoy as Betty share’s with you her story.
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.