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Healthcare Expert Polly Landsberg – Q&As
Making major adjustments involving our loved ones can be a difficult process, especially in such delicate circumstances as the final stages of life. At SweetTree, we know this first-hand, which is why we have prepared some answers by our healthcare expert Polly Landsberg in response to common client questions.
Healthcare Expert Advice
Adjusting to Routine Changes
Q: My mother has always led an active social life, and pre-Covid, enjoyed regular outings and activities with friends. However, she has spent the majority of the last 18 months shielding and we fear she has lost a sense of who used to be. Could introducing a home care companion help her regain this confidence?
A: Maintaining social contact with loved ones is crucial to happiness and wellbeing, and continuity with social events and activities can help to maintain a high quality of life. The pandemic has shown that although we can use technology such as laptops and tablets to keep in contact with people, it cannot replicate real-life interaction.
Going back out into the community after a long period of isolating at home can feel daunting. We would recommend taking small steps to create a safe environment for your mother to open up and disclose any worries, allowing her to verbalise her feelings with a specialist care professional.
Exploring the things that your mother enjoyed doing prior to the pandemic, we can create a person-centred plan to start bringing back the activities that she used to engage in in the past.
It would be beneficial for your mother to start out with short periods of companionship from a carefully matched and experienced carer. Having this initial reassurance and a friendly companion to attend social events with her could help to rebuild her confidence, before she feels able to attend independently. With reassurance and time, we would hope to help revert to her pre-covid social interactions and events. One tip we have found works well is having a small gathering at home first, perhaps enjoying the sunshine safely with friends is a good start to that confidence building.
Talking about End of Life
A: Nothing can be quite as challenging as when a person and their loved ones face a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness or age and deterioration are taking their toll. Being able to face the difficult conversations honestly and openly is something we are often not prepared for, whatever our backgrounds.
The truth is often that people feel very relieved when innermost thoughts are expressed and even recorded. Speaking openly can give peace of mind, reduce emotional burdens and reassure others close by. Being open about illness or dying and facing whatever comes together, may make situations easier to cope with. The person at the centre of the conversation can give instruction on how and where they would like to be cared for and nominate someone to help make decisions for them. This enables the person’s inner life to be preserved, preventing misunderstandings and puts the person very firmly in the ‘driving seat’ of their own life.
At SweetTree Home care services, we specialise in caring for people at the end of their lives and facilitate care and support that flexes around personal care needs, health needs and promoting the best quality of life possible.
We ensure we understand what each person wants, so the person can get on living day to day as normally as possible. SweetTree helps people to live well to the end of life by adding ‘life to days’.
Please contact us at SweetTree and ask how to start a very important conversation. There is so much more to say.
Understanding Memory Loss
Q: My husband has just been discharged from a memory clinic with a new diagnosis and we don’t know what to do next, please could you advise us?
A: Receiving a new diagnosis of memory loss can be an overwhelming and frightening time. While processing this new information it is not easy to untangle all the services out there, to know what you might need now, and start to plan for the future. An important first step is to look for a specialist dementia care service provider to conduct a comprehensive individualised assessment to guide you. The assessment should take a holistic focus on you and your husband’s needs and wishes. The assessment should address a broad range of issues related to dementia care and aging, looking at current and future physical, emotional, and social aspects of your lives. The specialist will assist you in identifying critical supports so that you and your husband can navigate these uncharted waters equipped with a map and toolkit to cope as best as possible, and to be prepared and flexible for what lays ahead. Perhaps, most importantly, it can allow you more flexibility to remain husband and wife, rather than transforming into full-time carer/advocate. Taking early action to establish a partnership in care, having someone who knows you well to provide ongoing emotional support, education, monitoring, and acting as an advocate and liaison between you and other service providers will alleviate some of your worries and give you a place to turn when needed.