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Small milestones, and why they are never 'just' small. John's story.

It's 9:00am. You wake up. You aren't at work today and the weather is lovely, warm and dry. Out of the window you can see the birds. There's always one slightly louder than the rest of them, which, even though you find it mildly annoying sometimes- it does make you feel grateful to live in an area where birds are common.

You sit up and get dressed into comfortable clothes. Today is 'that kind of a day', or perhaps instead you first take a refreshing hot shower before walking downstairs. You do that sometimes because it makes you appreciate the clean clothes you dress into straight away after. Once you're downstairs you cook yourself a nice breakfast and sit with a warm cup of tea while you slowly wake up ready to start the day.

At about 11:00am after you've had some time to relax in the kitchen and watch the outside world go by for a bit you decide to head outside and go for a lovely relaxing walk in the nearby park. Afterwards, you decide to go to the shop to buy the bread you need to top up on because it's on your way home and then once you get in you know you can make yourself some lunch. You have a relaxing afternoon and at 6:00pm just as you're about to make yourself some dinner you hear the door open and a rustling sound as someone comes through having let themselves in. This makes you feel a bit anxious and on edge at first- who do you know well enough to just let themselves in without knocking? That's quite frightening- you know your neighbour recently got broken in to.

You turn around but immediately calm down however, you know this person- you've seen them before many times. This helps you to feel at ease even though you can't recall their name or quite remember why you know them so well.

"I'm back, with the shopping you wanted"

"the shopping? But I've just been shopping..." You think to yourself, and back from where? Were you here earlier? You can't recall this person having been in the house today but you don't want to confuse yourself- or them by asking questions so instead you think back over the day and try to remember what happened; perhaps you just forgot. You trace back over the day and the things you did...

...What did you do today? If you've ever walked into a room and forgotten what you went in for then you'll have a vague idea of what it feels like to struggle to recall something to yourself in the moment. It can almost feel like there's a mist in the way obstructing your view of the memory when you need it most. Isn't it so frustrating when that happens? When someone is struggling with an injury or a condition that affects their ability to remember, it can become a never ending cycle of being stuck in feelings of frustration as they try to recall things in their day to day life and routine.

We can really take for granted the impact and the sense of achievement that can be felt from being able to remember something in moments where we would normally be known to forget them. This can cause us to overlook the significance of 'small milestones' and the important part they play in the life of someone who often relies and depends on the support of those around them for aspects of their day to day life. In the care industry there is no such thing as a 'small' milestone. Every success is an important aspect of care and we celebrate these as such, because promoting feelings of achievement play a huge role in the well-being of those we support.

Remember your afternoon? It was lovely and relaxing wasn't it? But what exactly did you do during the afternoon? How does it make you feel to read back over the article a second, third or even fourth time to realise you can't find anything that tells you what happened other than that it was a relaxing afternoon. If the information isn't there, how do you then find and recall it? For someone who struggles with memory, this can be a very vulnerable feeling, particularly for those who were once very independent and valued the ability to rely on themselves, no longer being able to do this in the same way can lead to a significant sense of loss and frustration.

When one of our team members, Julie, went to attend her visit with John, often a significant portion of the call would focus on talking through things with him to help him connect what happened so he could remember things that are important to him. Through the support of having meaningful conversation he can often remember portions of memories with the help of someone to prompt them from him, and while this is a really valuable asset of support; it is never quite the same as being able to remember something by yourself in the same way. Last week however, John reached a significant milestone for himself when he and Julie got onto the topic of what the first mobile phone looked like (we're talking pre-Nokia). This conversation triggered a memory that John had of the first phone he ever owned- and, this memory that came so clearly to him of his own accord then helped him to recall further valuable memories of his mother, his bedroom, and the drawer he kept his newest gadgets in. Including, details such as what they looked like, how it felt to get his new phone, the look on his mother's face giving him the phone and his first time using it. It was as if a cloud had cleared to let way for the sky. These memories, which John had previously thought lost had come back nearly as clearly as the day they happened, which was an incredible and emotional moment. To recall these independently is a huge milestone which has had a significant positive impact on John's confidence and sense of self achievement.

Julie, who I spoke to following the event said that it was an emotional moment for John, but also for her, to have been able to see what she described as a light switch followed by the look of sheer joy and pride that he had managed to recall this by himself.

"It was so amazing to witness how talking about a familiar object that was significant to him acted as the link he needed in order to remember those precious memories. It made his day, possibly even his week- and it made mine to see the smile it brought to him. Moments like these you can't describe, they're the reason I love the job we do."

Often, people we support struggle with things like memory recall, sensory processing and communication. For someone who has known the freedom of their independence all of their lifetime, it can feel caging to no longer have these skills in the way they once did. This is where we come in. By providing the support we do, we can help to promote and support people to maintain as much of their independence as they can, for as long as they can. We're here for you in the moments this isn't possible too. The good days and the bad days. Farrow Friends is exactly that. A friend when you need it most.

If you would like support for yourself, a friend or family member, get in touch with us today by emailing or alternatively drop us a call on 01476 385 395

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