Sunday, 19 October 2014

UBC - Day 19 - Tell Your Own Story - Tips for Carers

Welcome to today's Ultimate Blog Challenge get ready to tell your story!

We all have a story to tell, it doesn't matter who you are or what experience you have, your story is important and it needs to be told.

Mum shares her memories as a child

As a mixed media artist, I find that I use my journals a lot to tell aspects of my story or to express how I may be feeling at a particular moment.  My images, paintings and journal entries don't always have to have words.  I keep a journal just for writing as well, and first thing in the morning I spend time just writing, 3 pages or more of words whenever I can, allowing them to flow out, without censoring or hindering.

When I create a character or painting I don't start out always knowing what I want to paint, and use their gaze, smile and expression to tell the stories of pain, joy, fear and love.

I guess I also use this blog as a way to tell my story and share my journey, hoping that if only one person finds comfort or encouragement then its worth it.  I also share my story as a means of reflection.  When I can't find the words  to express how I feel, telling it in a story form can make it easier, and it is all part of the overall process.

Sharing your story reminds you of who you are.  We can often be buried under all the labels, wife, mother carer, and you can forget just who you were because that person hasn't been visible for so very long, lost in a sea of just getting by.

For now, get yourself a note book or journal and start writing and or drawing about how you are feeling, lessons learnt or advice for someone who might just be just stepping into your shoes.  Share your story with someone else you could be the inspiration that they have been praying for. 

You can also click on the 'Celebrating life' image to be taken to the rest of the posts from the Journey of a Carer.

Word for the Week - Romans 8:38-39

Word for the Week

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height not depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord...Romans 8:38-39

It says it all! but you need to hold on.  The ride won't be an easy one, your going to face some tough times, and even doubt yourself, and look challenges in the face, but you will get through!

As you meditate on the scripture and enjoy the image ask and think about the many gifts you have been given, the many challenges you face, and the fruit that will come from the work of your hands. 

Words and images for the week, to bless, encourage and inspire you to be all that you have been called to be. 
What will you do with what you have been given today?

Stay blessed and be a blessing

Saturday, 18 October 2014

UBC Day 18 - Time for a book - Tips for Carer

Welcome to today's Ultimate Blog Challenge, with every day an opportunity as a carer to do something different and enhance your life and those you care for.

Mum - out and about with the family
I have always loved to read, but since becoming a carer to my mother who has dementia, those things I really enjoy doing seemed to slip to the wayside.  I was running back and forwards from my mums home to my own, sometimes with time only to catch my breath, see my son, grab a quick snack and head out again. The thought of sitting down with a book and getting lost in the plot seemed far away as there was always something else to be done, and when I tried to do some reading before bed I was always too tired.

 Make way for the Kindle!
Kindle for Christmas!
One Christmas my husband got me a Kindle Fire, and it has been one of the most used gifts ever.  I wrote a review of my kindle on the blog, and I love it, I have always got it on me.  One of the great things I have been making use of is the text reading function which pretty much turns every book you buy into an audio book.  When I am in the car I select a book that I want to read and make my way to my mums.  This really kept me going for the 40 minutes drive, I was transported to wonderful destinations, and I also use it to read a lot of training books as well.  The kindle also came in handy when you were doing those tasks that didn't require you to think, but needed you physically present.  I either turn the book function on or music and it helps you to feel a bit more of a person, because you are giving back a piece of yourself.

We all need some time to ourselves!
The essence of today's post is to encourage you to find some way to best use the time you have and those in between times say if you have to wait for appointments.  There was one year where I was either going to a hospital or doctors appointment with my mum.  I found that when we were collected for an appointment by transport they would come at least and hour and a half early and then you would be left waiting around.  Armed with my kindle, I could occupy myself and my mum at the same time.  Another great feature of the kindle is being able to connect to WiFi and social media, it is like a mini tablet.

For now, try and identify some of the things that you enjoy doing that you can create a space for - remember 15 minutes each day is easier to find in your schedule than a couple of hours.  Make the most to keep yourself and your mind nourished as you go about your caring role.

You can also click on the 'Celebrating life' image to be taken to the rest of the posts from the Journey of a Carer.

Friday, 17 October 2014

UBC - Day 17 - Taking a Break - Tips for Carers and Gratitude's and Celebrations Journal - Week 61

Blessings to you as you connect for another day of 'Tips for Carers'.  I am glad that I am participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge, as it has reminded me of all the useful information that I have gained and I am very happy to share. As today is Friday I will be sharing some of the images from my Gratitude's and Celebration Journal, and the word for today is 'Recognition', and we are on week 61.


On Day 11 I spoke about getting some fresh air, and that meant going outside and if possible walking round the block, walking say 10 minutes in one direction then coming back, making the most of those snippets of time you may have within your day.

For some this is all they can managed because of their circumstances, so what I am going to suggest will take a bit more thought and organisation.  Some boroughs offer funding so that as a carer you can take a break from your caring role and take part in local activities or use it to have a mini break. When you think of what you do in your caring role, getting a break every now and then is the least, you can ask for, to restore your batteries and enable you to keep going.
Mixed Media Art - Amanda Trought

The first time I applied for the funding I used the money to book a series of monthly massages.  So for one hour once a month I was able to nurture myself and feel whole and able to continue in the role. At some point in your journey you have to recognise all that you have been giving and contributing, putting needs aside and taking our bodies and lives for granted until they are unable to do what we want them to do.  If you have a car you regularly oil and service it, generally you look after it to keep it in good running order, so why not your body?

If you take the time to organise an activity just for you, you will definitely feel the results and it means that you have an outlet outside of the caring role.  You could also see if among family and friends you can organise for someone to give you a break and take the time to go to a cafe or walk in the park, perhaps do something creative and go further a field to a gallery or art shop.  These are my favorite mini breaks, being able to be inspired by the creativity of others or potter around the arts and crafts aisles.

I am grateful for all the small things that make such a difference to our lives, and the impact that they can have.  I am also grateful for the support of family and friends which makes all the difference for which I celebrate the blessings on their lives.

For now, check with your local carers center about any funding available and apply.  While you are still waiting, schedule an activity that is just for you and make a date to keep it!

You can also click on the 'Celebrating life' image to be taken to the rest of the posts from the Journey of a Carer.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

UBC Day 16 - Tips for Carers - Home environment

Welcome to the Ultimate Blog Challenge, Day 16.  My focus for the past couple of weeks has been sharing my tips for those who are carers or are soon to be, and also for those who know carers that may benefit from some suggestions to help them as they work through their role.

Today I want to talk about environment, and the things that you can do in the space that you or the one the you care for lives in if they are still able to live in their own home. 

Over the years I have found it so important to adjust where necessary with regards to my mums home and her general environment.  When she first started to show signs of dementia we wanted to make being independent in her own home as easy as possible for her.  We used to prepare meals and put them into containers for her so that she didn't have to worry about using the cooker to cook a full meal but could heat up her food as needed.  We found that labeling cupboards and key things around the house helped her to navigate her way around.  We did at one point arrange for Meals on Wheels to deliver food, but it didn't work for her, and her perception of their service was that they were for people who couldn't help themselves and she didn't see herself in that position.  Simple things like putting the tea, sugar and biscuits on a tray near the kettle meant that she could quite easily find what she was looking for in one place
Change from one space to another can make a big difference

I found that clearing the clutter around the home and brightening the rooms helped, there was less things to have to tidy up because in her search to locate something she would turn the place inside out, and it allowed her to move around easier, but also enabled her to locate what she wanted in the home.  Mum's vision was being effected I found that having highly patterned furniture and carpets effected her perception of her surroundings, so where possible we had to change these.

Create a clear space

My recent adaptation has been to move mum from her previous home, the one we grew up in as kids, into one that facilitates the use of a wheelchair and is adapted for her needs, such as a wet room. It wasn't an easy decision as I had the emotional ties to our childhood home, but when she began to find walking difficult and we had to start using a wheel chair It got increasingly stressful carrying the chair up and down the stairs, and took a toll on her as well.  I think that she is happier in the new flat.  
Create a space that suits your needs

As the years have passed and mum has declined and slowed down, I have tried to ensure that I am one step ahead and think about what she would need as time goes on before she needs it, but I also encourage her to make an effort and do what she can as much as possible to keep some independence, however small.

You may be limited in the physical changes that you can make to your home but there is always something you can do which will not only help the one that you are caring for but also help you and could make a big impact on your role as the care giver.

For now, think about your space and the needs of the one that you are caring for and how this is affecting you.  What simple changes can be made to the environment that will impact on their well-being,  It might be as simple as putting stuff away and painting the room that can create a brighter environment, start thinking about what you can do and take a step to make the change.

If you want more Tips for Carers click HERE. You can also click on the 'Celebrating life' image to be taken to the rest of the posts from the Journey of a Carer.

Tips for Carers
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