You Can Care week, which runs from 25 February – 3 March, is being celebrated across the country to promote the work of carers and inspire others to get involved – and this is the perfect opportunity for one Salford woman to help carers look after themselves.
Jo Brizland-Cullen is an Ageless Grace educator in Salford who delivers brain fitness programmes that help keep the brain healthy throughout life.
Jo said: “To be a carer you have got to look after yourself first. A lot of the time with carers, you find the person they’re looking after is often in a better state of health that the carer themselves.”
Jo got involved in Ageless Grace after watching her mother and father’s relationship change when her mother became his carer after he developed severe dementia.
She said: “Both my mum and dad became isolated. And instead of being a young, loving couple enjoying retirement together it became very, very difficult for my Mum because obviously she loved my Dad so much.
“There was no way she was going to let anybody else look after him. This then meant that my mum was virtually house bound.”
After her father passed away in 2012, Jo was left searching for something to fill the “gap” as she struggled with mental health issues.
Jo said: “When I learnt of [Ageless Grace], this light bulb came on. This is something that can bring that quality of relationship back but at the same time give people a bit of fun, whilst improving their physical and mental health.”
The 21 Tools – Ageless Grace https://t.co/wl8pArqNhr
— Ageless Grace® UK (@agelessgraceuk) February 28, 2019
The programme, created by Denise Medved, is based around 21 simple exercises accessible for almost any age or health condition.
Some of these exercises include: “Juicy Joints” for joint mobility, “Gentle Geometry” for co-ordination and “Dance Party” for emotional expression and memory recall.
Jo said: “It’s a really advanced programme that is done to music and is practised in a chair… because it gets the brain to think and work out how to do things differently.”
Ageless Grace’s Brain Health Fitness programme gives carers the opportunity to train in the skills that will allow them the opportunity to care for themselves.
Also, by learning the 21 techniques, they could use these to support those they care for to improve both their brain and body health.
Jo said: “I’ve got a lady who cared for nearly 30 years for her Mum and Dad in my class. She said ‘Oh gosh, I’m sleeping better, I just can’t wait for Thursdays. I feel so much better in my body and my brain’.”
Last week, Jo hosted one of these sessions at Transcend Therapies – a wellness centre in Monton Village, Eccles.
She said: “It’s about reaching out. It’s really important to me that we don’t forget about them people who need those things that can bring you together.”
Jo plans to hold many more training sessions for carers alongside her weekly Ageless Grace sessions.
Alongside this, Jo hosts yoga classes at Transcend Therapies, which can also be a beneficial way for carers to take time out for themselves.
Jo said: “It teaches you about self-care and giving yourself that time to nurture and self heal.”
In the future, Jo looks forward to seeing Ageless Grace expand – with it now being active in 28 countries around the world. She hopes to continue helping many including carers.
“The ultimate goal for me would be for anybody that is a carer, or at home and unable to get out, that they can access Ageless Grace and do it at home with a loved one for 10 minutes a day. I’d love to see that across our country.”
• For more information about Jo’s sessions or to arrange a one-to-one session you can contact her on Facebook.
Photo credit: Jo Brizland-Cullen.