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Christmas and Dementia: How to enjoy the holidays
Christmas is a time for friends and family spending time together, but for someone living with Dementia, the festive season can cause a lot of upset and unwanted anxiousness. 

With that in mind, we’ve put together our top tips to help your loved one living with dementia, giving them the opportunity to enjoy the festivities with all the family. 

Keep it familiar 
It’s important to keep things as normal as possible in regards to your loved one’s daily routine. Where possible, stick to regular meal times in a familiar environment to avoid any potential confusion. 

You can also keep things familiar by using old Christmas decorations that your loved one used to use, try to decorate gradually so it doesn’t come as a big shock; or play their favourite Christmas song to trigger fond memories. 

Be flexible 
Sometimes, things just do not go to plan, and that’s ok. Understanding that your loved one’s needs may change suddenly is very important, while they may be thoroughly enjoying the festivities, come the evening they may become tired and agitated. Don’t have a strict plan of how the day is going to be, as you may be left disappointed. 

Quiet time 
Christmas day with the family usually means lots of noise. For someone living with dementia, this can be very overwhelming and difficult for a person to process, especially when they are surrounded by lots of people. Be mindful of loud music and too much noise when people are already chatting. Tell your loved one that they can go in to another room for some quite time where they can sit and relax, taking a break from the noise. 

Involve your loved one 
It’s important to make sure your loved one feels included as much as possible. Even if it’s asking advice on what gifts to buy different family members, keeping the conversation going will not only make them feel present, but could help bring back memories of past festive seasons. 

There are lots of other ways to involve your loved one, for example helping set up the table for dinner, or hanging some baubles on the Christmas tree; all of these little things will provide them with a sense of purpose, rather focusing on things they can no longer do.

Can you spot the signs of a stroke?
A stroke is caused by a blocked or burst blood vessel that brings oxygen to the brain, depriving oxygen and nutrients which causes the brain cells to die. 

Thanks to the FAST campaign, people are a lot more aware of what to look out for when the possibility of a stroke strikes. It’s also important to remember that different parts of the brain control different parts of the body, meaning that the symptoms will be dependent on the part of the brain that is affected. 

Act FAST: 
F- Face – the persons face may have dropped on one side, and they may not be able to smile. Also, their mouth or eye may have drooped. 
A- Arms – due to weakness or numbness, the person may not be able to lift both arms up and keep them there. 
S- Speech – the person may not be able to speak at all, even if they appear awake. The speech may also be slurred or muddled. 
T- Time – you must dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms. 

Other symptoms or signs of a possible stroke include: 
• Weakness of the face, arm or leg, usually on one side. 
• Sudden dizziness or loss of balance 
• Sudden and severe headache 
• Sudden loss of vision or trouble seeing in one or both eyes 
• Feeling easily confused or having trouble understanding things that would usually be completely understandable 

If the symptoms quickly disappear in less than 24 hours could mean that your loved one has had a Transient Ischaemic Attack, or what is often referred to as a mini-stroke. The same level of urgency should be taken if your loved one experiences a mini-stroke, as medical intervention could reduce the risk of a further, more serious stroke. 

Having a stroke can have long term effects on a person’s day-to-day living. Depending on the severity, the journey to full recovery could be a long one. Your loved one may need to undergo physiotherapy to help recover from muscle weakness, as well as coping with any other physical changes that may occur. Speech and language therapy may be used if the person has trouble speaking, reading or writing, and other therapies may also be on hand to help with any emotional changes that may have taken place. 

There are lots of resources available if you want more information about spotting the signs of a stroke, such as Stoke Association or the NHS website.

Some of our favourite autumn recipes 
The colder months are well and truly upon us, and as the winter frost sets in, so does our desire for all things warming and delicious.

Our talented team have two delicious recipes that are perfect to prepare when the family is coming over for dinner, or you want to treat visiting friends to a tasty homemade treat.

Studies have shown that the fatty acids found in salmon contribute to healthy brain function, as well as the wellbeing of the heart and joints, making it the perfect fish to enjoy in our older years. Our Salmon en Croute is the perfect autumnal dish, serve with roasted new potatoes and sautéed greens for the perfect family supper.

Serves approx. 5 people

55g unsalted butter
3 large shallots
100g washed spinach leaves 
450g chestnut mushrooms, sliced 
675g salmon fillets, skinned and sliced 
1 lemon, juice only 
1 large bunch fresh dill 
1 tbsp olive oil 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Splash of white wine
1 large free-range egg, beaten 
550g frozen puff pastry 

1. Put half the butter in to a frying pan and heat until foaming 

2. Add finely chopped shallots and fry until golden brown 

3. Add mushrooms and fry until slightly cooked. Add spinach then take off the heat and set aside 

4. Put salmon in a bowl and combine with lemon juice, dill, olive oil, salt and pepper 

5. Roll out the pastry until it’s a few millimetres thick, spoon the shallot, mushroom and spinach mixture on to the pastry and spread evenly 

6. Place the salmon (juices discarded) in a row, just off centre, on top of the shallot, mushroom and spinach mixture 

7. Sprinkle white wine over salmon and dot the remaining butter over 

8. Roll the whole thing up tightly (like a sausage roll), and coat in egg wash 

9. Cook at 180 degrees Celsius for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown

10. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving 

Chocolate brownies are the perfect sweet treat all year round and a definite crowd pleaser! Serve with winter berries and a scoop of ice cream for a delicious dessert that the whole family will love. 

Makes approx. 20 portions
462g unsalted butter
462g good quality dark chocolate
212g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
125g milk chocolate
7 large eggs
687g golden caster sugar 

1. Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a bowl over simmering water

2. Beat the sugar and eggs together until the mixture starts to thinking and look creamy

3. Once the chocolate has melted and cooled, gently fold with the egg and sugar mix, trying not to knock the air out.

4. Sieve in the flour and cocoa powder, break the milk chocolate and gently combine until it forms an even colour and consistency

5. Pour the mix into lined baking trays, about 1 ½ inches deep

6. Cook in oven for approx. 25 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius

7. Leave to cool before portioning and serving 

Children in care homes: a good idea?
Deciding whether or not to bring young children to visit a loved one in a care home can be a difficult decision. Some parents may not think it’s appropriate for their little ones to be in a care setting. 

However, there have been many studies about the benefits of the older and younger generation socialising. Much like Channel 4’s Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, young children visiting care homes can usually have a positive impact on residents emotional, social and physical wellbeing.  

We welcome visitors with open arms at Fernhill House, and that includes children too! If your loved one has recently moved in to a care home and you want to take your children to visit them, consider the following: 

Explain the situation
It’s always a good idea to sit and explain to your child about why their loved one has moved in to a care home, especially if they have never visited a home before. Try getting them to think of it as a lovely big house, filled with lots of new friends and plenty for your loved one to do, so it doesn’t sound boring or scary! 

Prepare them for what they might see
If they’re old enough to understand, you may need to explain that there are lots of people living at the care home and some of the people living there might be unwell. It’s always best to prepare them so they don’t feel uneasy about what they see or hear. People living with dementia often have bad days, so if your loved one has dementia you may want to explain that their relative may be acting a bit different than usual, but it’s still the same person that they know and love. 

Give them things to do
It’s no secret that children can get bored easily, so making sure your little one has something to do to keep them occupied is a great way of making them feel comfortable. Bring some of their favourite toys along so they can play, or some colouring or a board game so your loved one can join in too. 

Elderly and Halloween - making your loved ones feel safe
Once a year the shelves are stocked with sweets and scary costumes, all in preparation for Halloween. It’s a day that lots of people enjoy, but it’s also a worrying day for some, especially the older community.

Strangers knocking at the door, mostly dressed up or wearing masks, even sometimes showing threatening behaviour – it’s no wonder that Halloween can bring an evening of anxiousness to the older generation. 

There are lots of ways to ensure the safety of your loved one, especially if they are living on their own. Here are just some of the things you can do: 

No decorations, no knocking
Many towns now abide by the ‘no decorations, no knocking’ rule, so make sure that the front door is free of any pumpkins or decorations, that way people know that you do not want to be disturbed. 

Safety first
Put the door chain on or use the door spy hole to see who is there before opening the door. If you don’t feel safe opening the door, then keep it closed, you are not obliged to open the door for anyone. 

Put a note asking people not to knock
Much like the no decorations rule, it’s a good idea to put a sign on the door kindly asking trick or treaters to stay away. You can make your own or look for a template online. 

Be at your loved one’s side
If your elderly loved one wants to get involved in the festivities, then make sure someone is with them to answer the door and avoid any unnecessary stress, especially if the trick-or-treaters are in large groups. 

No more sweets
Put a sign on the door saying ‘no more sweets’ once you have run out, so people know to no longer knock. 

Don’t leave someone living with dementia on their own
If your loved one is living with dementia, don’t leave them on their own, sit with them or invite them out for a welcome distraction. Unwelcome people knocking at the door can be incredibly frightening and confusing for somebody living with dementia. 

They may sound like very simple tips, but they are all ways to help your loved one feel safe, something that is of the upmost importance.

Like all national days, celebrations and events, our team will carefully plan tasteful, fun and engaging activities around Halloween. If you want to know how you can join, just give u a call or send us an email.