Dementia information sheet and care tips.
Dementia is a group of illnesses that affects the brain. The most common forms are Alzheimer’s Disease, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. There are over 100 different forms of dementia and on top of that, each person presents differently, so you could say that dementia can be a very individual kind of illness.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with dementia, one of your main worries will be progression. A progressive illness is one that will get worse with time, but in the case of most forms of dementia, the rate of this progression can be slowed with medication and other treatments. Currently there is no cure for dementia, but people can still live well with dementia and lead happy ful lling lives.
Why are some things easier than others?
As well as memory loss, dementia can cause confusion, disorientation and loss of concentration and motivation. This is why you sometimes hear of people with dementia wandering around town. Even when memory of where they live has not been affected, they might have become suddenly disorientated.
Moreover, the way memory loss works, dementia patients will lose more recent memories first, so that distant memories seem more current. For example, a patient in her 80s will first lose memory of her 80s, then memory of her 70s, then memory of her 60s etc. So in some advanced cases, people can behave as if they are living in their 20s or 30s. This is why it could seem like they don’t remember you. In their minds, if they are only 45 years old, then ofcourse they think their child is still 18, not 48 as you might be now.
This also explains why they may still be perfectly capable of cooking a Sunday roast, but it appears they have forgotten how to use a microwave...if they think they are living in the 1960s, they haven’t seen a microwave yet.
Caring for someone with dementia
As you will know if you’re already caring for someone with dementia, the greatest quality you need is patience. We know it can be very frustrating if you are constantly repeating the same thing or worrying about them all the time. One way to avoid frustration for yourself and anxiety for your loved one with dementia is to communicate about the past, be there with them. If they are talking about people who have passed away or events of long ago that they think are current, be present there with them. It will reassure them and make them comfortable.
Dementia can be associated with physical symptoms too, like muscle weakness, weight loss and sleeplessness, so a holistic care plan should be considered. A fresh, nutritious diet needs to be provided more so than usual. Disturbed nights can become an issue, so you might consider hiring a care assistant for some night shifts, or respite care, so you can get some sleep yourself.
If the dementia patient learned English as an adult, they could appear to have forgotten how to speak English, and revert to their mother tongue. This can be disorientating for the family! But be reassured they are still the same person with the same likes and dislikes and feelings, they’ve just forgotten words. For consistency of care, we suggest hiring a care assistant who speaks their mother tongue in case this happens.
How can Three Sisters Care support my relative with dementia?
All our care assistants are trained in dementia care. Dementia is now an integral part of the Care Certificate (the baseline qualification every care worker needs by law.) On top of that we also offer two QCF Level 2 units on dementia. One is called Improving Outcomes for People with Dementia and the other one is called Challenging Behaviour in People with Dementia. These are offered inhouse and externally accredited by QCF Assessors. Many of our care staff also have clinical skills training and experience too, so if your relative requires support with physical care, we can also help them with that.
We can offer care and support on an hourly basis (minimum 2 hour visits for private clients), day time companionship from 6 to 12 hour shifts and we also offer live-in care, so that your loved one can have support 24 hours a day. Live in support is usually covered by two workers doing 3/4 days each, though we can also offer just one live-in care if you want 5 or 6 days a week only.
To talk to us about a support plan or care package for yourself or your relative with dementia, please call and speak with our Care Manager, Gerry Atkinson, on 020 770 6057 or email her on firstname.lastname@example.org.