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Healthy Body, Healthy Mind?

The great (I use this word very loosely) thing about dementia is that when dementia nan and I have an argument, real nan doesn’t remember it happening. So we woke up the next day and it was as if nothing had happened, for her. I was still feeling slightly bitter but of course can’t act on it because it would confuse and upset real nan. So once again we are carrying on regardless, the theme of living with dementia I suppose. Carry on as if nothing is out of the ordinary.

This weeks post is about some of things I have been doing with nan to help keep her feeling involved, mobile and relatively healthy.

I found a site on the internet about exercises that can be done by elderly people. Some of them seem a little complicated and out of nan’s ability range but I think the general idea of stretching will be helpful for her. Of course it is important to consult with a medic/doctor before starting any activities as they may aggrevate existing problems, and cause more damage then good. While nan does her gentle stretches I do my less gentle exercises with some music going, Nan laughs at how puffed out I get while she sits in her chair and does arm raises. If you would like to check out some gentle stretches for your elderly family the website I used is: http://www.eldergym.com/exercises-for-the-elderly.html but of course the internet has hundreds of other websites that a simple search can drag up for you.

While nan was in hospital after one of her falls the nurses let us know how important it was for her to be eating healthy meals. Where nan had been living on her own it seems she had only been eating egg & chips or cheese on toast. Of course there’s nothing wrong with these in moderation, but nan doesn’t feel comfortable cooking anything else so was missing out on vital nutrients. Now I’m here I make sure she has her toast in the morning, with her pills and tea, luckily nan loves tea and gets up to make herself a cup almost as soon as she has finished the previous cup, so there is little risk of her becoming dehydrated. At lunchtime nan has lunches delivered. They give her a menu once a week so she gets some choice in what she has. She never ever ever eats the vegetables that come with the lunches, insisting she doesn’t like them. She also has a habit of ordering meals that she doesn’t like. Today for example she had chicken and mushroom pie, but when it came she told me she doesn’t like pie, or mushrooms. This is the first I’ve heard as we often have mushrooms in our evening meals to bulk them out. So she ate her mash, picked out the chicken and then wolfed down her pudding. Guarunteed if I serve chicken and mushroom pie tonight she will eat the whole thing, except the crust (which I always burn, I don’t know why, can anyone help avoid this?!) Then once we have watched the news headlines at 6 nan will accompany me to the kitchen and we will decide what to have for dinner (I say we, I mean I tell nan what I had planned to make and she says that sounds lovely). I then get out all the ingredients (except the leftover vegetables from lunch, they stay hidden in the fridge til the last moment) and get nan to do something simple like slicing the mushrooms, or grating the cheese (nan likes grating the cheese as it means she can pick bits off of the cheese and snack on it). This helps her feel more like she is able to help, and gives her a bit more confidence. Once I have assured her that all is left to do is put it in the oven I mix the vegetables in (as they have already been cooked they are relatively soft, so easy to blend in with other foods) and then dish it up. In the ten months I have been here there has only been one meal that nan hasn’t enjoyed, lasagne (because, as she informed me halfway through eating it, she doesn’t like pasta). Occasionally nan will pick out some of the vegetables, but as long as she has eaten some of them it doesn’t bother me too much. For pudding I try to include some fruit, so canned peaches, mandarins, strawberries etc.

Nan and I also like to be creative in the kitchen. I have several recipe books, and use them as a basis for dinners, but often add things that need to be used up in the fridge or ingredients I know nan really loves. By doing this we have discovered a great recipe for a fish pie, and a lovely sausage and potato bake. If anyone would like me to share these recipes let me know and I’ll put them up, cooking is a great way to get a loved one with dementia involved and I will be trying out more recipes to share with you all if wanted.

I hope everyone has used dementia awareness week to benefit their own knowledge of dementia, as well as educating others. Thankyou once again for reading, and for the kindness and support you have all shown me, and other carers.

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