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Dementia Awareness Week

Dementia Awareness Week falls between 14th to 20th May this year.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer. But awareness and understanding remains low and many families are facing it alone.

We’ll be sharing useful information and tips throughout the week on our facebook page – please do take a look and feel free to like/ share and comment on the posts during the week, helping to create as much awareness of dementia during the week and beyond as possible...

 

In the meantime, we interviewed over very own Carl Bradley, Director of Care Services at Waypoints for his overview on dementia. Here’s what he says:

 

What is dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term that covers lots of illnesses, which are generally irreversible degenerative conditions that affect the brain. This includes Alzheimer’s (the most common form), vascular dementia, Lewy Body Dementia and frontal lobe dementia. All types of dementia can leave the loved-one with memory loss, personality changes and difficulty in understanding or communicating, although most people retain their emotional memory which is important to focus on.

 

How to spot signs of dementia

It is vital that if someone starts to forget things or gets muddled they should see their GP. Often physical issues or depression can be mistaken for Dementia in its early stages. A GP will discount all of these before referring for specialist diagnosis.

 

Tips for carers

My five top tips for carers are:

  1. Most dementia-sufferers’ memory eventually reverts back to their childhood, so they can get confused when talking about things that don’t relate to this time in their life. Therefore, I always advise carers to live in people’s reality.

  2. Some people are unable to rationalise accurately. So for example try not to correct sufferers if they think it’s Monday when it’s actually Thursday as this can cause anxiety.

  3. However many times you see your loved-one per day, it may be like the first time to them, so always greet them with a hello and smile, even if it is the 10th time that day!

  4. Engage and talk about their own memories that resonate with them, such as their first day at school or wedding day – it’s important to focus on reminiscing as it helps to reignite relationships, particularly positive, emotionally charged memories.

  5. Although the person may not recognise their carer, they do know that they still love them, they still feel emotions burning within themselves, which can really help a carer to deal with the illness when the person no longer recognises the carer as their husband or wife, daughter or son.

 

What to look for in a home

If your loved-one is at a stage when they cannot be cared for at home, I would advise that a care home should feel like a ‘home from home’ where they are able to live as independently as possible with a proper care package in place. The look of a home is only a small part of choosing a home; it’s always a good idea to observe the staff - do they always smile at the residents? are they too task-focussed?; are residents able to eat and drink when they want?; are the activities based around the individual rather than ‘entertainment’?; does the home have open visiting hours?; or simply ask the home if you can speak to a relative of a resident about their experience.

 

What help is available?

It’s really important to get an early diagnosis by a GP to see if it can be resolved. The next stage will be referral to specialists, who can offer medication to help initially and maintain them at a certain level. They can also put carers in touch with the available services including memory clinics, memory cafes, support networks, day centres or respite care.

No family needs to suffer alone - there is lots of help available once a diagnosis is given.

 

You might also like to go to the following websites for information or help:

Alzheimers.org.uk
Dementiauk.org
Dementiapathfinders.org

or if you have a question you’d like to put to Waypoints, please call 01425 486 760

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