Our thanks to Justine Khedoory who led and hosted today's session.

Today, Monday August 2nd, 2021, we held our first Dementia Club UK session at Sha'arei Tsedek Synagogue in Whetstone since March 2020!  This was also the first face to face session of Dementia Club UK since before the first lock down. Myself and all my amazing volunteers were very excited! We even had a huge 'Welcome Back' banner on the wall!

Our members were served tea, coffee, delicious biscuits and cake at the start of our session and were very happy chatting to each other.

Lisa gave a little introduction speech and I read a beautiful poem on Dementia called 'Two Mothers Remembered' that one of our members, James had asked me to read.  It was extremely emotional!

The poem can be read here.

Our members then participated in an exercise session which was led by the lovely Jane.  They thoroughly enjoyed it.

Then the amazing James LeBec, assisted by Joy entertained our members with a variety of popular songs to which many of the members and helpers danced.  He also did a music quiz and our members had to guess the name of the song! It was very funny & very competitive!

It was indeed a most special afternoon full of love and happiness which radiated throughout the room! Everyone had finally come home!

37 members and carers attended the session with the assistance of 8 helpers from the synagogue who were:- Justine, Caroline, Dot, Lisa, Mark, Angela, Melissa & Valerie.

Thank you to all my amazing volunteers.

We had 33 members for this trip. This was the first outing after the 18 months pandemic lock downs. People were understandably nervous. In order to give more space on the coach, Lisa booked a 53 seater coach so that everyone would feel more comfortable. As everyone arrived, Lisa took everyone’s names and also took body temperatures and made sure that each person had a hidden disability lanyard.

Dementia Club UK day out at Southend on Sea
Dementia Club UK day out at Southend on Sea

The weather was cloudy with a bit of sunshine. It was not as hot as the week before but it was just fine. When we arrived at Southend, Lisa first went to the pier to get the tickets for the train and then gathered everyone together for a group photo before everyone went into the restaurant SANDS for their fish and chips lunch. The service was excellent and the fish and chips was the best. After lunch some members decided to go off on their own and do their own thing and others were enjoying the view of the sea from the restaurant which was magnificent.

Some of us then decided to go on the pier and all was fine until we discovered that the restaurant on the pier was closed unfortunately so we could not have our cup of tea. Hell then broke loose when it started to rain becoming a downpour with thunderstorms and cross winds which made it very difficult to actually walk. We all had to hold on to each other tightly. It was such a relief to see the train after 15 minutes of waiting to get back.

Although we were all wet and exhausted fighting the wind, everyone really thought it was an exciting adventure.

When we got back we managed to get a cup of tea and a rest before boarding back on to our coach for home.

Dementia Club UK recently joined in partnership with Friends in Need ‘FIN’ and delighted that we were able to have our reunion party at the Friends in Need ‘FIN’ community hall next to East Barnet Baptist Church.  I am very grateful to John Wilks the Director and Cathy Lloyd the Activity co-ordinator who both helped the day before to set up the tables.

The room looked perfect on the day and Lisa had a lovely buffet selection of sandwiches and soft drinks.

Lisa welcomed everyone in her speech and mentioned that she had brought some Age UK Life Books and Hidden Disabilities Lanyards for anyone who wanted. She also mentioned that she had the new Dementia Club UK programmes and FIN had some flyers too with events. Lisa also mentioned that one of the dementia club venues was here at the FIN community hall which will be starting on 27th September.

It was a great honour to also have the Mayor of Barnet Cllr. Alison Cornelius. Our Trustees Dr Angela Parker, Valerie Chodosh and Mark Rutter were also at the party helping. Lisa also welcomed Richard Kravetz, Eon and Jane Walters the exercise instructors who were happy to be at the party to see members after such a long time. Lisa also welcomed members from Rotary Clubs Golders Green, Mill Hill and Hendon and lastly thanked John Wilks and Cathy Lloyd.

After 18 months this party was very welcomed. We had about 70 people. Luckily the hall was big enough and everyone was comfortably spaced out.

Lisa decided to also read out all the names of those who had passed away during the past 18 months and this also included members from FIN. There was a one minute silence after Lisa read the names.

DCUK Memorial Wall
DCUK Memorial Wall

Lisa then asked the Mayor to say a few words and this was followed with a few presentations. Lisa gave the Mayor 3 framed Certificates to give out to Arzu Bingolo for her support in fundraising for the charity and 2 other Certificates to Kevin Ziantes and Keren Mail for their support in running the carers group sessions when Lisa has other work meetings which clash.

Click image to view video
Click image to view video

Lisa then gave the Mayor a couple of other gifts to hand out to two other people to say thank you. Lisa gave Chrystalla a pot of flowers for being a fantastic Bingo assistant during the Zoom sessions and also a gift to Andrew Wrensch for running the seminars during the carers group meetings.

This was then followed by the Mayor cutting the cake and then Lisa introduced the music entertainment – Ian James and Katie Paine who sang magnificently and got everyone up and dancing in no time.

Click on the image above to view video
Click on the image above to view video

Rachel then arrived and she was ready to get members up and dancing to the Saturday Night Fever. This dance was practiced a number of times during the zoom sessions and therefore a number of the members were familiar with the dance movements.

Night Fever
Click image above to view video

It was then time for the raffle and the Mayor picked the numbers. One of the raffle prizes was Percy Pig which was kindly donated by Marks & Spencers in Whetstone. Thank you very much to Neil the Manager at Marks & Spencers.

Everyone was very happy with their gifts and then the music carried on again for another 10 minutes before finishing about 5pm.

Everyone was slightly nervous before coming to the party but when everyone met at the party it was like ice melting. It was very over whelming. This was a successful reunion party.

We had 15 members today. Everyone enjoyed their chat to start with and Lisa also did a few quizzes before James Le Bec joined us. James then sang a few songs which everyone sang along to and then he did the Music quiz which everyone loves especially as it also follows with a Countdown quiz game. The winner was Pamela with the longest word.

Richard then joined us for the chair Yoga exercises and as it was very hot he kept the exercises slow and also did some breathing exercises which were cooling. Richard then continued with his quiz and today’s quiz was to guess the age of some music legends. The winner for this quiz was Gina and Chris.

Lisa then followed with Bingo and the winner was Kevin and Mabel.

During the first half hour, everyone has the opportunity to raise any concerns, questions/topics to be discussed and also if anyone has any recommendations and suggestions which may be of interest to other carers.

One of the carers suggested a speaker at one of our future carers group meetings – A Consultant Uro/Neurologist.  I have in fact already sent him an email invitation.

Another carer mentioned about an interesting talk they heard recently at a Zoom meeting about Montessori teaching and how perhaps this could also be applied for those living with dementia. The Montessori method was developed by Italian physician Maria Montessori emphasizing independence. It is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands on learning and collaborative play. It is about getting children to learn independently and reach their unique potential.

Another carer raised concerns about some of the challenges she was experiencing with her husband who has Vascular Dementia and wanted to understand about Vascular Dementia and how she could deal with some of the challenges. Andrew mentioned that he would be discussing some of these problems in his presentation.

Andrew Wrensch then gave a 30-minute seminar presentation about Vascular Dementia and the presentation slides have been sent to you via email.

A further discussion then followed after the presentation about hallucinations, obsessive compulsive disorders and what to do when someone’s appetite has deteriorated.

Andrew suggested that giving someone a big plate of food may be too frightening and therefore giving little bits of food at different times throughout the day would be better. Even food that is pureed can look appetising as there are ways of creating the pureed food into shapes that for example look like a fish. Please see an IDDSI poster with examples that has been sent to you via email.

Another carer asked when to consult a doctor if your loved one has deteriorated. Andrew mentioned that it was important if in doubt to always check with your GP. Lisa also stressed that we as carers are the best judge as we know our loved ones and can see if there are any changes. If we are concerned with any changes we should not hesitate to speak to a doctor for advice.

There was also a discussion about the importance of someone being well hydrated and having the right nutrition which can help to slow down the progression of Vascular dementia. Andrew mentioned about Jelly Drops. I have in fact 0rdered 7 Jelly Drop trays which I will bring to the next dementia club venues.

Here is the website for your information  https://www.jellydrops.com/

Jelly Drops are award-winning sweets designed to boost hydration. They’re 95% water, sugar free and vegan with a fantastic, solid but smooth texture! Inventor Lewis Hornby was inspired to create water sweets after his late grandma Pat, who had dementia, was struggling to hydrate. Today, these deliciously fruity treats are designed to be enjoyed by everyone!

Andrew has provided us with a few recipe options which we can try – as below:

Here are a few Jelly Drop ideas that will help people increase fluid intake. An important way to think about fluid intake is not thinking about how we get someone to increase to their recommended amount but rather how can we increase someone’s intake by small %’s at a time. If we have get someone to have an extra few sips of fluid or “sweets” like the jelly drops, this can make a significant difference every day. Here are a few ideas:

We Make our jelly drops by taking 900mls water and 350g Jelly powder (very simple). Place them in small jelly moulds and place in the fridge (or freezer for a hot day) It will make a few trays of delicious bite sized jellies, if someone finishes all of them in a day, they would have consumed nearly 1 litre of fluid extra.

Tea, coffee and alcohol (less than 4%) still counts towards fluid intake for the day. Water is always best, but if someone isn’t drinking water, switch it around. Soup as a starter also helps to increase fluid intake.

Another idea: 2 cups juice – Orange juice, grape juice, whatever you want. You could even use your favourite blend of tea, or coffee (though coffee, in my experience, needs a little more gelatine to set properly).

Low heat until juice is hot, but before it starts to boil – once you see a bit of bubbles rising, add 2 tablespoons gelatine, and stir gelatine into hot juice until completely dissolved. Turn off heat Add another cup and a half of juice (or whatever), stir for another minute or so, then pour into a mould. You could pour it into ice cube trays, a Tupperware container (to cut in to slices), or any sort of silicone candy mould. Cover it, stick in the fridge overnight, and viola~ Bite-sized taste snacks, full of water.