Practical advice to carers


Awareness talk by Bobby Jutzen

An inspiring talk by Bobby Jutzen, a board member of DementiaSA, left a “feel good” impression with those attending the latest meeting of the Pinelands dementia support group held at the Helen Keller Society.

He gave a graphic description of the many years he spent caring for his wife Maureen until her death, and thanked Karen Borochowitz for his introduction to DementiaSA after hearing her speak during a radio interview.

Using the word Courage as the basis for his talk, he broke it down into: C for Choice, O for Organize, U for Understand, R for Remember, A for Anger, G for Guilt, and E for Encourage.

Choice, carers have the choice of sitting in a corner and groaning or doing the best they could for affected people.

His choice was to take care of Maureen. He met Karen at a support group and DementiaSA was started in 2006. He became heavily involved in support groups.

Organize, this is essential, and carers have to have the patience to help people with dementia to wash, dress and undress. They have to make the home safe, so there are no sharp edges or knives, or slippery carpets.

In cases of disturbed sleep, there has to be an arrangement for the affected person to sleep in another room with a light on, as it was essential to obtain sufficient rest.

Understand, family members have to take time to understand the various changes in the home and in the family member affected.

If difficulties or tensions arose, it is often effective to take the person for a walk in the garden or around the block.

Remember, he said it was essential to understand that each person was an individual and his or her brain had different memories. “Try to think of a common memory, such as when you laughed together.”

Bobby pointed out that memory slips could be embarrassing and particularly when shopping, as the person with dementia could slip away while the carer was choosing goods.

Anger, he said God was the first object of anger. “You ask yourself – Why has this happened? My wife is a good person. Instead of blame, you must ask God to give you strength and peace, so that you can direct your anger into love for your wife and children.”

Talking on Guilt and Encouragement, he said carers must at all times persevere with doing the right thing for the affected person. “Sit in front of them, look them in the face and keep your tone of voice, body language and words under control.”

All family members had to be trained to demonstrate encouragement.

Also essential was choosing the right care centre to suit one’s pocket, with suitably-trained staff and activities such as crossword puzzles, word games, indoor ball games and sing-alongs with other residents.