Activities for Thursday, 1st January 1970

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Top days out not far from Blenheim House
Moving into care can sometimes mean moving to a slightly new area, and that can mean new places to explore. Or perhaps you know the area well but need some recommendations on suitable spots to enjoy time outside of the home with your loved one.  

Whether you’re a resident at Blenheim House or a family member looking to take your loved one on a day out, our local area has a wealth of days out and activities to enjoy. Here are just some of the top days out within striking distance from our care home in Melksham, to help you plan your leisure time together.

· Bowood House and Gardens 

Just 20 minutes by car from Blenheim House, the whole family will enjoy visiting this beautiful stately home, nestled in around 100 acres of beautiful parkland and meticulously manicured gardens. Designed by Capability Brown, visitors can explore the lake, arboretum and cascade on a sunny day, or can discover the interior of the house, complete with unique items such as Napoleons death mask and Queen Victoria’s wedding chair. Younger family members will adore the adventure playground, petting zoo and soft play, while you relax with an ice cream. Wheelchair accessible toilets are available, and the majority of the grounds and ground floor of the house can be accessed by wheelchair users. 

· Castle Coombe Village 

Famous for its namesake racing circuit, Castle Coombe village offers a more laid-back slice of Cotswold life. Frequently named the ‘prettiest village in England’, this gorgeous Cotswold stone built village is a wonderful place to spend a relaxing afternoon. Pop into one of the friendly pubs for a lovely lunch, or browse the local crafts, flowers and produce available from local sellers. The village has a free car park and is around 25 minutes from Blenheim House, making it an ideal activity on a sunny day. 

· Avebury 

One of England’s best-known attractions and a World Heritage Site, Avebury is an ancient monument containing three stone circles dating back to Neolithic times. Just half an hour’s drive from our home, the Barn Gallery tells the story of the discovery of these stones. Unlike it’s better known counterpart at Stonehenge, visitors can actually go right up to the giant stone circles and ponder their purpose in close quarters. Wheelchairs are available for hire and guide dogs are permitted, although in inclement weather access may be difficult or restricted for disabled visitors.

· Lacock Abbey 

A real local gem, Lacock Abbey is less than ten minutes by car from Blenheim House and offers a wonderful glimpse into history for lovers of the past. Built in the heart of the village of Lacock, the Abbey is a unique country house built on the site of a former nunnery. Operated by the National Trust, Lacock Abbey is a beautiful building to explore, and combines a small museum dedicated to the achievements of William Henry Fox Talbot, a former local resident who contributed to the development of photography. All the main areas are disabled friendly, although some of the walks through the grounds may only be suitable for more mobile people. 

· Wadworth Brewery 

If you or your loved one are fans of great ales, a visit to the Wadworth Brewery is a must. Occupying its present site in Devizes since 1885, and just 15 minutes’ drive from the home, Wadworth is well know as a family brewery, bringing us wonderful brews such as the 6X, Swordfish and Bishop’s Tipple. The factory tour is good fun, but due to steep stairs and uneven surfaces may not be suitable for those less sure-footed. However, the visitor centre is disabled accessible, and you can even meet the legendary Wadsworth Shires, Max, Archie and Sam. 

There are many more things to do and places to enjoy in and around Melksham and the wider Wiltshire area. For recommendations of things to do that will suit the needs of your family and loved ones, have a chat with any of our carers.  We also arrange regular trips out – last month’s festivities included a trip to Whitehall Garden Centre to see their magical Christmas lights, so just check with the team to see what’s coming up! You can also check our Facebook Page for upcoming events and photos from previous outings. 

How to spot the signs of depression in older people
We are all prone to feeling a little deflated at times, but when that feeling persists for a long period and begins to affect our quality of life, it’s time to take things more seriously. Older people can be more at risk of becoming depressed, with around one in four people over the age of 65 developing depression at some point in their lives. 

Despite this relatively high proportion of older adults suffering from this condition, a staggering 85 per cent never receive any help from the NHS. This can be for a number of reasons, from refusal to seek help to the condition going unnoticed by caregivers. Recognising the signs of depression and seeking help for the person can mean an earlier intervention, and shorter recovery period. Here’s what you need to know.

What causes depression? 

People older than 65 are more at risk of becoming depressed than younger people, for a variety of reasons. They may feel down due to giving up work, struggling financially or losing a partner or friend. The majority of older people manage to cope remarkably well with these challenges, but for some; depression is a real risk. 

Some of the most commonly identified causes of depression in older adults include: 

· Long term illnesses and failing health: People who are living with a debilitating condition, cognitive decline, chronic pain or disability can often feel depressed about their situation. 

· Bereavements: The death of a friend or family member, in particular a spouse, or a beloved pet can be a trigger for depression. 

· Isolation and loneliness: Suddenly living alone or having a dwindling circle of friends can make depression a higher risk. Similarly, losing driving privileges or no longer being able to participate in favourite activities because of physical challenges can reduce the person’s sense of purpose and negatively affect their outlook on life. 

· Anxiety: Older adults can become anxious for a variety of reasons. Financial worries can mount up, they may be fearful of dying or about their health, or they might find living alone uncomfortable. These fears can quickly develop into depression if not addressed. 

If you or someone you know has experienced some of these issues, being aware of depression symptoms and acting accordingly can help tackle the problem more efficiently. Some medicines can also make older people feel depressed, including beta blockers, blood pressure medication, cholesterol control drugs and steroids. If you or someone you know feels depressed after starting a new medicine, talk to a doctor to see if there is an alternative. 

Signs of depression in older adults 

Clinical depression is more than just feeling a bit down. It’s a persistent, debilitating condition that is hard to shake, and will start to affect many aspects of your life if left untreated. Common symptoms include: 

· Loss of interest in hobbies, social activities and conversations 
· Feelings of hopelessness, despair and of being a ‘burden’ 
· Slowed movement or speech 
· Weight loss, loss of appetite or, in some cases, overeating 
· Increased use of alcohol or drugs 
· Lack of energy, low motivation 
· Neglect of self-care, such as not washing, forgetting medications and not eating 
· Problems with sleep 
· Thoughts of death and suicide 

In younger people, depression can often manifest itself as a sad feeling. However, with older people, this ‘sad’ feeling often doesn’t occur, and instead they will complain of physical pains, a lack of energy and low motivation. Physical complaints such as headaches, arthritis pains and random bodily aches are often the predominant symptom of depression, so keep an eye out for this. 

Depression is a clinical illness, which can be treated with medication and therapy. Older people may be reluctant to seek help, due to the perceived stigma associated with mental health problems which is typical of their generation. However, it’s important to point out that times have moved on, and that our understanding of mental health has improved, so they really don’t need to suffer in silence. 

As active members of the local community, we welcome a variety of visitors to the home to share their enthusiasm, knowledge and experiences with our residents. 

We even have our own mini-bus, enabling residents to take trips to places they’ve long enjoyed visiting or discover new interests locally. Our team know exactly how to provide a fun and engaging fitness and wellbeing programme too. And, of course, family and friends are welcome to join in when visiting.

How to explain dementia to children
Coping with a diagnosis of dementia is tough for all involved, even children. As much as we might think kids can’t cope with knowing the facts, it’s important we communicate in an age appropriate manner so that they are given the chance to understand the changes they will inevitably see. 

It’s natural to want to protect children from painful situations, but if you choose to shut them out, you could be doing more harm than good. Children are often aware of changes in atmospheres, of people feeling tense and of difficulties in the family. Failing to offer an explanation about what’s happening will leave them feeling confused and worried, so it’s important to clarify the situation in an appropriate way. 

The news is likely to be distressing, but it will allow the person to take their time and to come to terms with things. They will also be relieved to know that any unusual behaviour is just the illness, and not personally directed at them. By letting them see how adults cope in a difficult situation, you’ll be equipping them to manage painful emotions better later on in their own lives. 

Talking about dementia 

Here are some top tips for talking about a dementia diagnosis with a child or young person: 

· Use age appropriate language: You know your child and their maturity better than anyone, so start your discussion in the right mental place for them. Don’t dumb down your language if you usually talk to your child on a mature level, and similarly avoid using complicated or confusing words with younger people. 

· Be honest: Don’t be afraid to tell them the hard truth. Dementia does not usually get better, and things may get quite bad as the illness progresses. Tell them how the person might forget who they are, or may think they are someone else. Don’t filter out all the bad bits, because they will only find them harder to cope with later on. 

· Allay their fears: Remember, children aren’t always as logical as us adults, and may let their imagination run away with them. Reassure them that dementia isn’t contagious, nor is the person likely to die any time soon. Ask them what they are afraid of, and don’t laugh if it’s seemingly ridiculous. 

· It’s OK to laugh: Let them know that the person with dementia may sometimes do something silly, and that it’s OK to laugh if they put the milk in the dishwasher or keys in the oven. Let them know it’s not all doom and gloom, and that there will still be plenty of good times to be had with their loved one. 

· Use resources: You’ll find plenty of resources to help you explain dementia to a young person, from leaflets to storybooks and activity sheets, many of which are free. Ask your GP for any sources they might have, and explore online resources at Alzheimer’s Research UK for support in getting the message across. 

Children are often far more resilient than we give them credit for, but they need to be given a chance to get involved. Don’t shut out your child in a bid to protect them, they won’t thank you later. 

Following on from your discussion 

Once the child is aware of the diagnosis and what is likely to happen next, they will need plenty of comfort and reassurance from you. They need to know that you are there for them, no matter how preoccupied or sad you might seem. Giving them a role in the process will make them feel valued and important, and can help them focus their energy on doing something useful. 

Maybe you could ask them to make some large signposts for the home, to help remind your loved one where to go and where things live. Reassure them if the person with dementia says something hurtful that it’s not really what they mean. Let them know that simply spending time with their loved one and showing them care and affection is the most important thing they can do, and remind them how much you appreciate their help and support.

Here at Blenheim House, our approach to Dementia Care is one step at a time. And it works exceptionally well. Whatever stage your loved one is at, we can help you not only manage but make the most of every moment. 

Get in touch today to hear more about our specialist dementia care in Melksham.

Growing older is more fun than you think: 5 reasons not to dread old age
Receding hairlines, tooth loss and ever-increasing wrinkles; getting older has plenty to be fearful of, but is this all there is? It’s a common misconception that growing older brings nothing but poor health, loneliness and misery, but the reality for many can be really quite different. In fact, a recent study in the US found that over 65s are actually less stressed and generally happier with their lives than people in their 20s.

Here at Blenheim House, we firmly believe there is a great deal to look forward to as we age. Here are just a few things you should consider, which might just change your mind about growing old. 

1.You could be healthier, happier and less stressed 

As a general rule, 50 and 60-somethings tend to eat better and exercise more than young people, and generally have lower alcohol consumption too. This could lead to increased fitness, a better body and boosted serotonin levels, keeping us happier and less likely to become depressed as we age. 

2. Finances could be looking rosy 

Most of us will have realised the majority of our earning potential by the time we approach retirement, so with any luck, we’ll be getting a bigger salary than we did in our 20s and 30s. We’ll also be able to look forward to being ‘empty nesters’, and all the extra disposable income that comes with that. We might have paid off our mortgage, or been able to downsize into a smaller home, and therefore have more money to spend on new experiences. 

3. Retirement will be awesome 

No more work! Imagine what you could do with all that spare time. Two thirds of retiree’s say that retirement was better than they imagined, and that they’ve kept busy and entertained despite giving up work. To fully embrace and enjoy your retirement, however, it’s important to ensure you have a good pension pot. Work with a financial advisor to plan your golden years, so that you can really enjoy all that spare time to yourself. 

4. Sleep will no longer be deprived 

According to the Sleep Council, almost half of working age people are getting too few hours sleep. Working patterns mean people need to be in bed relatively early to cope with early starts and, particularly for night owls, this can be hard. Once you retire, you can stay up as late as you like, and lie in for as long as you wish. At last! A sleep regimen that you are fully in control of. 

5. You could choose an amazing care home 

Care homes can be a fulfilling experience; indeed, here at Blenheim House, our residents liken the experience to a high-quality hotel, with quality care and, of course, new friends. Our residents enjoy a whole host of exciting activities, such as monthly celebrity speakers (including stars of the Archers, Radio 4 comedians, novelists and more), and experiences involving animals, music, history and more. They can enjoy their hobbies, welcome visitors and generally make the most of their golden years in a happy, safe environment. 

Ask any one of the older people living at Blenheim House, and they’ll be sure to tell you that life begins at retirement. It’s all part of living, and just another new adventure that, with the right attitude, you can relish and enjoy just as much as you did being young.

Memory Café at Blenheim House Care Home in Melksham
Are you experiencing dementia or any other memory impairment?Why not join our memory café on Saturday the 27th January from 10:30am -12pm, and every following 4th Saturday of the month.Join us for tea & pastries in our wonderful Upper Cut Café, accessing our lovely secure gardens for a stroll.Enjoy sharing meaningful activities with our residents and staff, or just feel free to join us for a coffee & chat, whatever you choose to do!THERE IS NO NEED TO PRE-BOOK, JUST TURN UP, THIS IS A FREE EVENT.Our staff are fully experienced. We work valuing everyone as an individual.