Dementia explained

According to Alzheimer’s Society, dementia describes a ‘set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem solving or language.’

It can be difficult at first to pick up on the signs of someone with the condition, as memory loss and confusion can sometimes just be a sign of old age. The symptoms of a person living with dementia however will get progressively worse over time and the person will often display behaviours that are out of character.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, a campaign to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia.

Here we run down the key symptoms of the condition and how to help your loved one:

Difficulty recalling yesterday

A person living with dementia can often recall memories they have from 30 years ago but will struggle to remember what they had for dinner last night. Alzheimer’s disease creates impairments in short-term memory but remote memory, i.e., things that happened years ago, often remains intact.
Rather than trying to bring the person with dementia back to present day, memory books, showing old black and white films and talking about past experiences will help to reduce anxiety and make them feel comfortable in their surroundings.

Unable to carry out simple tasks

You may have noticed your loved one struggling to carry out tasks that they were once a dab hand at. For example, being unable to follow simple instructions in recipes, having difficulty in making decisions over small matters and being unable to problem solve are some of the main tell-tale signs of dementia.
If your loved one is displaying signs of anxiety or forgetfulness when carrying out day-to-day activities, then it can be unsafe to leave them alone. Turning off plugs, putting away sharp items such as kitchen knives and making sure to lock doors can help to prevent serious accidents.

Problems interacting

People living with dementia often have difficulty in both following a conversation and sticking to topics. It is quite common for them to strike up a normal conversation but then veer off into a subject that is completely different without so much as a pause.
It is important when chatting to your loved one to ensure that background noises are kept to a minimal where possible and that you relax and slow down your pace when talking. Despite the fact that you may see the person several times a day or week, each visit may feel like the first for them. Keep your sentences short, use the person’s name often and try to be wary of your tone and approach if you see them getting anxious or confused.

Help for you 

Caring for someone living with dementia is tough and it is important that you look after yourself and get the help and rest that you need. There are many support groups that can provide advice and an opportunity to meet like-minded people with a listening ear.

Help includes:

Dementia UK – https://www.dementiauk.org/sources-of-support-for-families/

Alzheimer’s Society – https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20046/help_with_dementia_care/79/carers_looking_after_yourself/4

Age UK – https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/care/helping-a-loved-one/caring-dementia/

Dementia Care – http://www.dementiacare.org.uk/services/need-some-advice/carers-support/

Here at The Beeches, it is our belief that a care home can be a truly positive experience. Whether your loved one needs round the clock nursing or dementia care, our experienced team is here to deliver the highest standard of care in a relaxed and friendly environment.

The Beeches are also pleased to be welcoming new residents. They have specific procedures in place, to continue to support families who are looking for care for a loved one, whilst minimising the risk for residents and staff.

If you’re interested in hearing more about our home, our team would be happy to talk to you. Contact us on 01206 572647 or email info@thebeeches.co.uk.

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